More than 200,000 new cannabis users are expected to take up the habit in Thames Valley if the Class B drug is legalised, new figures have revealed.

The research has revealed Thames Valley is one of the top five places in the country where people would pick up a joint for the first time following legalisation, with 205,769 people new users predicted across the area.

Currently, cannabis is illegal in the UK and if you are caught with it in your possession it can land you in prison for five years or 14 years if you are supplying and producing it.

READ MORE: Street in Oxford named one of the most beautiful in the UK

Bicester Advertiser: Cannabis plants growing. Picture: PA Cannabis plants growing. Picture: PA

However, the medical use of cannabis - which must be prescribed by a registered specialist doctor - was legalised in November 2018.

The figures were the result of two polls commissioned by the Civitas think tank, which works on issues related to democracy and social policy, in May.

The first poll asked 4,451 UK adults about their own cannabis use with a second poll quizzing 1,029 UK parents on their attitudes to cannabis.

Both polls were nationally representative samples and gave a true picture of public opinion.

The research also shows that nearly half of all parents (49 per cent) are worried about their children using cannabis, with 55 per cent wanting the police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley to be tougher on cannabis use on under 18s.

Bicester Advertiser: More than 200,000 cannabis users are predicted in Thames Valley. Picture: UnsplashMore than 200,000 cannabis users are predicted in Thames Valley. Picture: Unsplash

Civitas also cited data from Portugal, where cannabis has been legalised, which show a 30 fold increase in reported psychosis cases in the last year.

Frank Young, editorial director at Civitas and author of the report, said the poll’s figures raise questions about whether the NHS could cope with millions of new cannabis users.

He said: Other countries have tried legalisation of cannabis and seen psychotic disorders sky rocket to 30 times pre-legalisation levels.

“We already have a mental health crisis in Britain. Do we need millions of new cannabis users flooding hospitals? This poll completely destroys the myth that legalisation would stop drug dealers peddling drugs to children, most parents tell us they would keep dealing drugs to children.”

Bicester Advertiser: A facility in Portugal designed to produce over two tonnes of high-THC premium medical cannabis per year. Picture: PAA facility in Portugal designed to produce over two tonnes of high-THC premium medical cannabis per year. Picture: PA

“We don’t need 205,769 new cannabis users in Thames Valley. It should make the police and crime commissioner stop and think and direct police chiefs to get really tough on cannabis use.

“This poll tells us that parents want the police and politicians to start getting tough on cannabis use and that calls to legalise cannabis are way off the mark. Parents are worried that politicians rushing to legalise drugs will make their job harder and put their children at risk,” he added.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing:

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

A message from our Editor

Thank you for reading this story and supporting the Oxford Mail.

If you like what we do please consider getting a subscription for the Oxford Mail and in return we’ll give you unrestricted access with less adverts across our website from the latest news, investigations, features, and sport.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok for more. 

You can also join the conversation in our Facebook groups: stay ahead of traffic alerts here, keep up to date with the latest from court here, share your favourite memories of Oxford here, get your daily dose of celebrity news here and take some time out with news that will make you smile. 

If you’ve got a story for our reporters, send us your news here. You can also list an event for free here.