80% of Gen Z Support Legalisation in the UK.

Liz Filmer
27 May 2024

A report published by The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen)this week has discovered that 80% of Generation Z back the cannabis legalisation in the United Kingdom.

The report, Society Watch 2024: Understanding the New Generation of Voters gives an understanding of three key policy issues ahead of the General Election in July; those being law and order, social care and cannabis legalisation.

Who is Generation Z?

Data for the survey, carried out by NatCen, was taken from over 5,500 participants in interviews executed between September and October 2023. Answers were grouped into five distinct generations; Generation Z  (1997-2012), Millennials (1981-1996), Generation X (1965-1980), Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and The Silent Generation (1925-1945).
The people surveyed were asked to choose the statement that most closely matched their viewpoint on cannabis legalisation. Almost two-thirds or 63% of the Gen Z group supported the sale of cannabis in licensed shops whilst 17% of this demographic were also of the opinion that cannabis sales should be legal without restriction.

Across most generational groups the support for cannabis was higher than support for prohibition. 67% of millennials were in support of cannabis legalisation, whilst 58.3% of Gen X held the opinion that cannabis should be legalised in some way. 45% of Baby Boomers were found to support cannabis prohibition while just over half (51%) of the Silent Generation were surveyed as saying that cannabis should remain illegal.
The research also found that despite voicing far higher levels of support for the sale of cannabis, Gen Z was documented as being particularly less likely to use cannabis than Gen X were at their age. In 1996, 16.2% of Gen X 16-24-year-olds reported having used cannabis in the previous month. In contrast in 2023, just 8.4% of Gen Z 16-24-year-olds were recorded as having indulged in weed.
Estimations suggest that by 2030, Gen Z will account for 25% of the voting population. For many in this demographic, the 2024 General Election will be the first opportunity that they have had to vote.
“Views on the sale of cannabis provide a case study of how Gen Z’s views on law and order are shaped by distinctively liberal social attitudes “Gen Z take a more liberal position than other generations, even though their self-reported use is relatively low.” 

“If these views are upheld as Gen Z increasingly gain the right to vote and become a larger proportion of the electorate, it could contribute to a countercultural shift on a level with that experienced by their Baby Boomer grandparents in the 1960s.” 

-  extract from the report Society Watch 2024: Understanding the New Generation of Voters.

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Liz Filmer