Britain: Pot Use Down Dramatically Following Cannabis Reclassification

London, United Kingdom: Self-reported cannabis use among Britons has declined dramatically following a 2004 Home Office decision to downgrade cannabis possession to a non-arrestable offense, according to statistics published this week in the UK government’s 2005-2006 British Crime Survey.

The report finds that the use of cannabis by the general population is now at its lowest level in ten years, and that much of this decline has taken place since 2003. Among young people age 16 to 24 years old, self-reported cannabis use has also declined dramatically since the late 1990s.

Approximately 21 percent of British young adults reported having used cannabis in the past year, the survey found. By contrast, 28 percent of Americans age 18 to 25 have used pot in the past year, according to statistics published in 2006 by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Commenting on the British report, Martin Barnes, executive director of the British think-tank DrugScope, said: “The fact that cannabis use has continued to fall to its lowest level in nearly 10 years is further evidence that the decision to reclassify the drug to class C was sound. Some warned that the change would lead to an increase in cannabis use yet the reverse has happened, possibly because there is more awareness of the possible harms.”

Under the 2004 reclassification scheme, Britons found in possession of “personal use” amounts of marijuana are typically cautioned by police, but not arrested.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500.