Sadiq Khan to launch review into legalising cannabis in London
It's one of his pledges if he is re-elected as mayor of the capital
Sadiq Khan has announced that he will launch a review looking at the issue of cannabis legalisation. The Mayor of London has said that it will be part of a new approach to tackling drug-related crime in the capital.
If re-elected in the London mayoral election on 6 May, Khan has said that he will set up an independent London commission to look at the potential health, economic and criminal justice benefits of legalising the class-B drug.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that there is a large degree of public support for this, with surveys suggesting that almost half of the country support the legalisation of the drug, including 63% of Londoners.
A source close to the mayor said: “It will be for the commission to look at the evidence in the round, but nothing is off the table in the context of what is best for public health and keeping Londoners safe.”
The policy is expected to be part of Khan's mayoral election manifesto, which is going to be published today. He will say that it is "time for fresh ideas about how to reduce the harms drugs and drugs-related crimes" can cause, and that the commission will "make recommendations focusing on the most effective laws to tackle crime, protect Londoners’ health, and reduce the huge damage that illegal drugs, including cannabis, cause to our communities and society.”
Studies have found that there could potentially be a whole raft of social and economic benefits to the decriminalisation of the drug. The mayor's office has claimed that the illegal drug trade in the UK costs the country £19 billion a year, whilst the legalisation and regulation of cannabis would raise £1 billion in taxes according to some estimates. In 2019, a cross-party Commons health committee also called for the government to consult on the decriminalisation of cannabis for personal use.
One of Khan's major concerns about the illegal drug trade in the capital is how it fuels organised and violent crime as well, with the Labour mayor also believing that too many young people that too many young people are criminalised for the use of drugs.
Whilst the policy may be popular with voters, it does put Khan in opposition with the views of his party leader, Keir Starmer. The Labour leader recently said he was opposed to the decriminalisation of cannabis, telling saying that current drug laws are "roughly right."
If (and it's a big if) the independent commission, which would be made up of experts from criminal justice, public health, politics and community relations, supported the legalisation of the drug, London would be far from the first place to do so. The commission would look at the evidence from places like Portugal, where possession and consumption of drugs have been decriminalised since 2001, and Canada, Uruguay and a number of US states, all of which have legalised the recreational use of weed in recent years.