Why legalising Class A drugs wouldn't necessarily cause a spike in people taking them

Half of Britons who would use Class A drugs if they were legal have actually already tried them (Picture: Getty)

Legalising Class A drugs like cocaine, ecstasy or LSD would not necessarily change how much people use them, according to new research.

A poll by YouGov and Yahoo News UK asked how many Britons had tried a Class A drug before, then asked how many would be willing to do so if they were legal.

The survey also asked why the public would or would not be willing to try a Class A drug.

According to the poll, one in 11 Brits (9%) have already tried a Class A drug, rising to one in seven (14%) of 18 to 24-year-olds and 25 to 49-year-olds.

For older people, the number was far lower with just one in 50 (2%) of those aged 65 and over saying they taken a Class A drug.

According to the poll, which features in the latest episode of Yahoo UK’s podcast Britain is a Nation of…, one in 20 Britons would consider trying a Class A drug if it were legal.

The majority of those peoples said they would only think about taking cocaine, ecstasy and LSD.

It also showed that twice as many people have already taken cocaine and ecstasy than those who said they would do so if it were legal.

47% had already taken cocaine while 20% say they would try it if it was legal and 44% had already taken ecstasy while 23% would try it – suggesting that many people are already trying Class A drugs whether they are legal or not.

Listen to a discussion of these statistics on Yahoo and YouGov’s podcast, Britain is a Nation of…

Heroin, crack cocaine, meth or crystal meth appeared to be no-go drugs for most people, the survey suggests, with the majority saying they wouldn’t try them even if they were legal.

One in 15 (7%) had tried crack cocaine before, and roughly one in 20 had tried heroin (5%), methadone (5%), or methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth (6%).

People who said they would never take a Class A drug even if it were legal were asked about their rationale.

The most commonly selected reason was that the drugs ‘simply do not interest me’, chosen by 73% of respondents.

People who would never take Class A drugs even if they were legal were most likely to say it is because they’re not interested (YouGov)

Just over half (53%) said they are not comfortable with how drugs could affect behaviour, 44% cited health reasons and 42% said they do not want to support the drugs industry.

Speaking on the podcast Ian Hamilton, Associate Professor in addiction at the University of York, said legalising drugs could make it easier to treat addiction.

“There still is a stigma with drug use and there’s a ranking to that. For a mum to say I’m using crack cocaine compared to a stock broker saying I’m using a line of coke, there’s a clear difference in our attitudes towards that,” he said.

“A regulated market I don’t think solves everything but it does help to reduce stigma and stigma is a big barrier to seeking help and getting treatment in a timely way.”

This survey was made possible by YouGov’s panel of 6 million respondents. Join the trend and share your opinions with the world today.

To hear more unpacking of statistics about British people, listen to the full episode above, or download it on Apple Podcasts, Acast, or Spotify to listen while on the go.