The Mayor of London is planning a commission to investigate the decriminalization of cannabis
London Mayor Sadiq Khan will set up a commission to look into the potential of decriminalizing cannabis when re-elected next month. This is evident from media reports from the United Kingdom. Khan was due to table the proposal to examine the health, economic and criminal benefits of decriminalizing cannabis as part of his platform for re-election on Tuesday.
“It is time for new ideas on how to reduce the damage drugs and drug-related crime cause to individuals, families and communities,” Khan said, according to a report by The Guardian. “The Commission will make recommendations that will focus on the most effective laws to fight crime, protect the health of Londoners and reduce the tremendous harm that illegal drugs, including cannabis, do to our communities and society.”
“So if I am re-elected, I will set up a new London Drugs Commission made up of independent experts to examine the latest findings from around the world,” said Khan.
“The Commission will make recommendations that will focus on the most effective laws to fight crime, protect the health of Londoners and reduce the tremendous harm that illegal drugs, including cannabis, do to our communities and society.”
The Mayor’s Office found that illicit drug trafficking costs British society £ 19 billion a year and nearly 42,000 people in England and Wales were charged with drug offenses last year. Although Khan has said he is against decriminalizing Class A drugs like cannabis and heroin, he would support cannabis reform if the commission found the move was beneficial.
Khan’s fate as London Mayor will be decided by voters in an election scheduled for May 6th. In 2019, a public opinion poll found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of the city’s residents support the legalization and regulation of cannabis.
A group of independent experts
Under Khan’s plan, a commission of independent experts from the fields of criminal justice, public health, policy, community relations, and academia would meet to examine how problems related to drug use and addiction have been addressed by different countries around the world. The panel would likely consider the experience of Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs in 2001, as well as the jurisdictions that legalized adult cannabis, including Canada, Uruguay, and some US states.
The commission would also examine evidence of the effectiveness of current UK drug laws, enforcement and addiction treatment services. The panel would then make recommendations for city and state governments, law enforcement, and public health services.
“It will be up to the commission to review the evidence in the round, but nothing is off the table on what is best for the public health and safety of Londoners,” said a source close to Khan opposite The Guardian.
Mayor faces uphill battle
Khan previously called for an “evidence-based conversation” on cannabis, despite the fact that, as London’s Mayor, he is not empowered to introduce new laws in Parliament. He hopes, however, that his support will give weight to the cause if the Commission recommends decriminalization.
Khan needs to convince national leaders that decriminalization is the right move, including members of his own party. Labor leader Keir Starmer recently told Sky News he was against decriminalizing cannabis and said current drug policies are “about right”, although he added that “there is always room for adult debate about how.” we deal with these cases “.
It seems even less likely to bring Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the leader of the ruling Conservative Party, on board with the decriminalization of cannabis. After news of Khan’s plan to investigate the matter emerged, a spokeswoman for the prime minister’s office at 10 Downing Street said the mayor is “wasting his time” because Johnson “has absolutely no intention of using cannabis to legalize “.
“Controlled drugs policy is a government responsibility and there are no plans to transfer that responsibility,” said Allegra Stratton, Johnson’s press secretary. “The Prime Minister has spoken about this many times – illegal drugs destroy lives and he has absolutely no intention of legalizing cannabis, a harmful substance.”
“Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, will know that policy on controlled drugs is a matter for the UK government,” she added. “It’s not an office thing.”