On October 5, 2014, the Observer reported its latest survey findings on drug use in Britain. The paper last conducted a poll on the subject in 2008.

A summary of the survey follows:

– The percentage of people living in Britain who have tried illegal drugs is 31% (up from 28%).

– Both sexes are equally likely to use drugs (fewer women had in 2008).

– Just over one-fifth — 21% — of people who have ever tried illegal drugs are still taking them today.

– More people living in Scotland have tried drugs — 35% — than in other parts of the UK.

– Nearly one quarter — 23% — of survey respondents use some form of illegal drug daily. However, 55% of current users partake less than once a month.

– The overwhelming majority of drug users — 84% — indulge at home.

– The median starting age for experimentation is 19, although 41% of current users started between the ages of 16 and 18.

– Most young drug users will stop at the age of 26. Women tend to stop drug use earlier than men.

– The most popular drugs in the UK are marijuana (93%), amphetamines (34%), cocaine (29%), ecstasy (25%), magic mushrooms (22%) and LSD (20%).

– Marijuana was the first drug 82% of users tried. N.B.: Fifty per cent of dope smokers shy away from other drugs.

– If drugs were decriminalised in Britain, 16% of those surveyed who had never used illegal drugs would consider doing so.

– If drugs were decriminalised, first-time users (aforementioned 16%) would choose marijuana (81%), cocaine (28%), ecstasy (28%), magic mushrooms (22%), amphetamines (20%) and LSD (19%).

There are more data at the link. The article is nicely laid out and worth a read.

It is likely, particularly given the Liberal Democrats’ push for decriminalisation at their party conference last week, that this subject will run and run.

More on drugs tomorrow.