A new poll has found that children in the United Kingdom find it easier obtain cannabis than alcohol. The poll was conducted by drugs policy think tank Volteface.
The Children Report surveyed more than 1,000 teenagers and found that 44 percent of youngsters aged 16 to 17 who have used weed said that the drug was easy to obtain. By comparison, 22 percent of people in the same age group who have consumed alcohol said that alcohol is easy to buy.
The survey also revealed that prosecutions of young people 16 to 17 years old who were caught supplying weed increased 26 percent between 2012 and 2017. This is higher compared to the 16 percent drop for adults.
The new research also found that over the period of five years, there was a 54 percent increase in the number of cannabis-using young people who were admitted to the hospital due to mental health issues caused by high-strength marijuana strains as well as inadequate education about drugs.
Moreover, the report argued that public policy has brought about the criminalization of more youngsters and adverse health outcomes, too.
The authors of the report also contended that young people are being exploited by drug dealers to distribute highly potent weed.
The report made several recommendations, including:
- Investigating social media’s role n facilitating the trade of cannabis by young people. This will help with the code of conduct that is currently being considered.
- Considering cannabis consumption as a marker for potential vulnerability instead of criminality
- Improving diagnosis of marijuana use by mental health services.
- Annual drugs education to be provided in schools by trained teachers.
War against cannabis a failure
Because of these results, Labor MP for Tottenham David Lammy called the government’s war on drugs as a failure.
Lammy said that cannabis has become the substance of choice among young people who are not able to buy alcohol because of its strict regulation. Therefore, he said, the criminalization of cannabis has had the very opposite effect to the deterrence that it was intended to induce.
According to Lammy, the government should consider a more mature approach to its cannabis policy, which is based in health instead of criminality.
Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner, explained that children are more likely to be vulnerable or to become victims when it comes to many aspects of illegal cannabis, including smuggling, distribution, cultivation, and consumption.
She also said that when it comes to cannabis distribution, young people are the most expendable in the chain and are “at the bottom of the ladder,” where exploitation and violence are rife.