Nearly half of Scots support legalisation of cannabis

Recreational cannabis use is illegal in the UKPixabay

Nearly half of Scots support a change in the law to legalise cannabis, The Times has found in a survey. 

The Times poll found that in Scotland, 47 per cent of people support the legalisation of cannabis, 10 per cent more than those opposed.  Seventeen per cent said they were unsure. 

When it came to political affiliation, SNP voters were the most likely to back a change in the law (59 per cent), followed by Labour supporters (45 per cent) and Liberal Democrat voters (44 per cent).

Conservative voters were least likely to support a relaxation in the laws (34 per cent). 

In response to the Times' findings, the Scottish Government said: "Addressing drug-related harms continues to be a priority for this government and we are prepared to consider innovative, evidence-based approaches."

At present, cannabis is designated as a Class B drug across the UK and those found in possession face up to five years in prison.

But there has been a push in recent years to legalise the drug, with one of the strongest arguments in favour being that it is supposedly less harmful for users and those around them than alcohol.

Critics like Peter Hitchens argue that legalisation will exacerbate mental health problems and violent crime.

A recent study in a journal published by the American Medical Association linked smoking cannabis before the age of 18 with an increased risk of depression and suicide in adulthood. 

As Home Secretary, Sajid Javid last year legalised the use of cannabis for medical purposes, allowing doctors to prescribe it for the treatment of conditions like epilepsy or chronic pain. 

In another shift, plans were revealed in January for the creation of a farm in the West Country that would grow cannabis legally in the UK for the first time. 

Earlier this year, Labour's David Lammy, Conservative Jonathan Djanogly and Liberal Democrat Sir Norman Lamb went on a fact-finding mission to Canada, where recreational cannabis use became legal last year.

"I want the market legalised, regulated and taken away from crime gangs," Mr Lammy said following the trip. 

At the time, the Home Office refuted the claim that legalisation would break the hold of criminal gangs. 

"The legalisation of these substances would not eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade, nor would it address the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery they can cause to families and society," the spokesman told the BBC.