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How Many People in the U.K. Smoke CANNABIS?

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How Many People in the UK Smoke Cannabis?

Usually when you want to find out something about the population, you take a survey of a representative sample. That works fairly well when you want to find out how many people prefer butter to margarine, or what soap powder they use for washing clothes. Neither of those involve an illegal activity, so answers can be given freely and, hopefully, truthfully.

However, what if you want to know what percentage of the population is doing something illegal, that’s a different matter? “Excuse me madam, but how frequently do you go shoplifting?” or “Excuse me sir, would you mind telling me when you last robbed a bank?” are hardly likely to elicit an honest response, so why would admitting to smoking doe be any different?

Probably because we all like to think we have a rebellious streak in us, and we’re keener to show this off than to appear righteous and boring.

Hell, even politicians like the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary Charles Clarke and Harriet Harman, the former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party have all admitted to using recreational drugs. Less of a surprise might be to learn that Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary also admitted to partaking of recreational drugs in the past, though one has to wonder if his hairdresser isn’t permanently stoned!

To make you laugh, if you ask Google how many people in the UK smoke cannabis, the first site it suggests is – which is a fairly stereotypical result and surely a slur on the forthright and respectable nature of today’s students!

On a more serious note, the BBC indicate approximately 2 million people in the UK smoke cannabis, while the Daily Telegraph suggests that when compared to other countries, the UK comes 26th on the list of countries with the most cannabis smokers at 6.2% of the population – 3.9 million. Iceland came top with 18.3%, closely followed by the USA with 16.3%.

Curiously, and this relates more specifically to one of the most often used reasons for not declassifying cannabis as an illegal drug, of those who did admit to taking a recreational drug, while 93% took cannabis, only 6% took heroin or crack cocaine. So, is it really true to say that cannabis should not be legalised as it can lead to the taking of other, more serious drugs? Those figures don’t really point in that direction.

We’ll discuss the British drug survey taken in 2014 in a later article, but it is interesting to note that over one third of the UK population admit to having taken illegal drugs at some point in their life, and of those, 21% still do. Of that 21%, 55% admit to taken illegal drugs less than once every month, while 23% admit to taking illegal drugs on a daily basis.

If there is a major concern, it is that 23% of those questioned admitted to taking illegal drugs below the age of 16, an age when the brain is still developing and consequently, the risk of developing mental health problems greatly increases.

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