The mayor of London will launch a review that will examine the feasibility of decriminalizing cannabis as part of a new approach to combating drug-related crime.
Should he be re-elected on May 6, Sadiq Khan said he would set up an independent London drug commission to examine the potential health, economic and criminal benefits of class B drug decriminalization.
Khan believes there is widespread public support for a more relaxed approach to decriminalization, citing polls showing more than half of the UK – and almost two-thirds of people in the capital – support the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in adults.
While he has ruled out the decriminalization of class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine, Khan is willing to consider supporting changes in the legal status of cannabis if that is what the commission concludes.
“It will be up to the commission to examine the evidence for the round, but there is nothing off the table in the context of what is best for public health and keeping Londoners safe,” said a source close to the mayor. .
The announcement of the proposal to establish a drug commission in London is expected to be part of the Khan mayoral election manifesto, released on Tuesday.
Khan will say that new ideas are needed to counter the illegal drug trade, which harms both the health of Londoners and their communities, as well as encouraging an increase in organized and violent crime. He believes there are too many young people criminalized for drug use.
According to the mayor’s office, it is estimated that the illegal drug trade in the UK will cost society £ 19 billion a year. Some 41,900 people across England and Wales were charged with drug-related offenses last year. According to some estimates, the legalization and regulation of the sale of cannabis would raise at least 1 billion euros in taxes for the Treasury.
But formally taking that position could leave him on the sidelines of the Labor leader, who recently said he opposed decriminalization. Current drug laws were “roughly correct,” Keir Starmer told Sky News, though he added that “there was always room for an adult debate about how we deal with these cases.”
The London Drugs Commission, which would be made up of independent experts in criminal justice, public health, politics, community relations and academia, will examine how countries around the world have addressed issues with drug use and addiction.
This is likely to include evidence from Portugal, where drug possession and use have been decriminalized since 2001 as part of a broader approach to drugs, including improved treatment programs and better prevention services, education and social support.
It is likely to also take into account the experiences of Canada, Uruguay, and several U.S. states, where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use. Private use of cannabis is allowed in Spain, while Dutch cafes have been selling marijuana for a long time.
The commission would gather the latest evidence on the effectiveness of British drug laws, police enforcement and addiction support services. It would be presented to the mayor with recommendations for City Council, government, police, the criminal justice system and treatment and NHS services.
While Khan does not have the powers to introduce new laws, he believes that if the commission recommends the decriminalization of cannabis, a mayoral endorsement would give it a boost.
Khan, who in the past called for “evidence-based conversation” about cannabis, will say, “It’s time for new ideas on how to reduce drug-related harm and drug-related crimes to people, families and communities.
“The commission will make recommendations focused on the most effective laws to fight crime, protect the health of Londoners and reduce the enormous damage that illegal drugs, including cannabis, cause to our communities and society.”
In 2019, the health committee of the commons of various parties asked the government to consult on the decriminalization of possession of drugs for personal use. He said adopting a health-based approach would benefit users and reduce harm and costs to the community at large.
The Survation poll cited by the mayor, published in July 2019, found that 63% of London residents supported the legalization and regulation of cannabis, while only 19% opposed the idea. Across the UK, 47% supported legalization, with 30% against.