More young people think cannabis should be legalised over tobacco, according to a new study.
The Student Money Saver surveyed 1,000 people from 18 to 30 about their use of and attitude towards drugs and alcohol, and the results are strongly in marijuana’s favour.
Whilst 52.4% of respondents want cannabis legalised, more than half believe that tobacco should be illegal.
The regularity of cannabis use is still low in comparison to alcohol and tobacco however: 45.4% of young people admitted to trying it but only 12.5% use it once a month or more.
The data included responses from a mix of students and non-students. One surveyed teen stated: "Making drugs legal would stop illegal drug trafficking. Plus the fact that alcohol and tobacco are legal is just hypocritical. They are bad if not worse."
Speaking to HuffPost UK, James Felton, of Student Money Saver, said the survey results surprised him. He attributed the “lack of harm caused” by cannabis as opposed to tobacco as a factor influencing the young’s decisions.
Felton said: “What the results show is that students are much less reactionary in their views to drugs. The trend continues that the young are using drugs and alcohol less and less, and yet have more liberal attitudes towards their use… The young are more informed than most of society on drugs, and eventually their informed views will lead to better drugs policies.”
Most countries ban the sale, growth and production of cannabis but many continue to decriminalise possession. The Netherlands is renowned for its smoking freedoms, whilst North Korea’s president Kim Jong Un does not consider marijuana to be a drug.
In May, the new political party named Cista – Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol – were the first pro-drug party to contest a General Election. Fielding 32 candidates and winning 8400 votes, their aim is to decriminalise all drugs, stating that the “50 years long so-called ‘War on Drugs’ has been lost”.
The NHS still cites a decrease in cannabis use over recent years. Their LiveWell website states that the proportion of 16-59 year olds using cannabis in a year has fallen from 10.6% in 2003-04 to 6.6% in 2013-14.
Risks associated with smoking cannabis include an increased chance of lung cancer, a negative impact on mental health and a potential disruption to fertility.
Full survey results are available here.