We ask Birmingham - is it time to legalise drugs?
A YouGov poll found that over half of Brits believe that possession of soft drugs should either be legal or viewed as a minor offence
and live on Freeview channel 276
There’s much debate about drug laws in the UK. Over half of Brits believe that possession of soft drugs should either be legal or viewed as a minor offence according to YouGov, while the majority believe hard drugs should be regarded as a more serious offence.
I hit the streets of Birmingham to get people’s thoughts and found that many people viewed this as a complex issue with no clear answer. Younger people have a tendency to more often believe current drugs legislation is too strict.
This begs the question - if Britain did go through processes of legalisation or decriminalisation of certain substances, how would they be distributed to those who wish to use them? Here’s what the people of Birmingham told me when I asked them for their views on drugs legislation.
Department of Health and Social Care figures show there were 185 deaths among adults undergoing drug addiction treatment in Birmingham between April 2019 and March 2022.
This was up from 132 who died during the three years prior, from April 2016 to March 2019.It was also up from 151 deaths recorded between 2018 and 2021.
Anton says: “I mean, drugs is a very wide encompassing term for a lot of stuff. And it’s a bit of a wide net to be just, like, yeah legalise everything. But things like marijuana - absolutely legalise it.
“I mean, we’ve seen it work in many other countries - and in America, for example. I see no reason why it shouldn’t be done here. And honestly, it’s not exactly like the public is alien to the concept, either, because it’s everywhere. It might be completely illegal, but it is everywhere.
“Let’s be honest. So yeah, obviously there’s a line to draw. There’s a lot of harder stuff, a lot of drugs that you wouldn’t probably want to see the public using on a regular basis. But marijuana? 100%. Definitely.”
Lee says: “Drugs can ruin lives, and it comes down to the management of the person. And each case to me should be reviewed individually based on what’s actually happened and how it affects their lives and others around them because it can be quite devastating.”
Anton adds: ”In America I know that they have dispensaries and what have you, and it’s taxed. And that money has gone towards good things for as far as I understand. So I don’t understand why we couldn’t have a similar system.”
What the YouGov poll found
Six percent of Britons think that possessing hard drugs – such as heroin or cocaine – for personal use should be legal.
Seven in ten Britons (70%) think that the possession of hard drugs should be a criminal offence, with significantly more Conservatives (85%) than Labour voters (60%) backing this.
One in six (16%) say possessing hard drugs should be considered a minor offence. Again, this view is shared more by Labour (24%) than Conservative (7%) voters.
A quarter of Britons who currently use hard/soft drugs (26%) say possessing hard drugs should be legal, half (51%) think it should be a minor offence, while 22% say it should be a criminal offence.
The story is different when it comes to the issue of selling hard drugs: just 3% of Britons support legalising this and 6% say it should be illegal but a minor offence. Eight in ten (83%) think that the sale of hard drugs should be a criminal offence.
Overall, men are more likely than women to be more lenient when it comes to the legality of drug possession and selling. Older Britons – those aged 60 and above – tend to take a somewhat harder line on the issue than younger age groups.