From The Guardian, Charles Clarke – the Home Secretary – is quoted:
He told the Times “The thing that worries me most [about the downgrading of cannabis] is confusion among the punters about what the legal status of cannabis is.
The Free Dictionary:
1. Games To lay a bet against the bank, as in roulette.
2. Chiefly British Slang To gamble.
Curious use of a word then – “punters”. Why didn’t he say “the public” or “drug users” or “the electorate”. Why did he use a word that we attach to gambling, to risk. This isn’t about whether people are using drugs, just their knowledge of them. If a parent is seeking information about cannabis and it’s legal status because they think their kids are using it, does that make them a “punter”. No it does not – so why pick that word ? Mr Clarke isn’t a stupid man, I don’t believe it was a slip.