A record 59% of Brits now support the legalization of cannabis after the government permitted medicinal use of the drug, according to a new Populus poll.

Just 43% of people surveyed in May were in support and 41% opposed it, but there has been a sweeping turnaround in opinion in the past five months. A thinktank called Volteface commissioned the poll and it said that legalizing cannabis for recreational use can no longer be considered a vote loser, urging politicians to take note. A separate Populus survey shows that MPs are becoming increasingly relaxed in their attitudes towards cannabis.

The turnaround in public opinion can be attributed to several key developments across the globe. Canada has just become the first G7 nation to legalize cannabis and many Brits think the UK should follow suit, arguing that prohibitionist policies do not work. They believe a regulated and taxed industry would not only bring an economic benefit to the UK, but it would also help to cut out violent crime.

Then there was Sajid Javid’s decision to legalize medicinal marijuana, allowing tens of thousands of NHS specialist doctors to prescribe it. That followed a positive review of its medicinal properties from England’s Chief Medical Officer.

But the most important development has to be the case of Alfie Dingley, the young, human face of the movement to end the stigma attached to cannabis use. The six-year-old epilepsy sufferer made front-page news across the country earlier this year after suffering 3,000 seizures and 48 hospital visits in just 12 months. His parents made a heartfelt plea to the government to let him enjoy a wonderful life, rather than the constant pain he faced, by allowing him to use cannabis.

The pleas fell on deaf ears, sparking outrage across the country, and within a matter of months the laws began to change. First, a special committee was able to give Dingley and a fellow epilepsy sufferer special permission to use cannabis, and then earlier this month medicinal cannabis was legalized. Dingley has just turned seven and he has not had any seizures since he started regularly using medicinal cannabis oil in July, with his parents claiming he now leads a pretty normal life.

Now there are CBD cafes springing up across the UK and opinion continues to shift in favour of legalization, so it may not be long before the UK follow’s in Canada’s footsteps, which would create a huge industry.

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