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Sadiq Khan to launch review into making cannabis legal in London

Sadiq Khan is willing to consider supporting changes to the legal status of cannabis

Sadiq Khan is to launch a review examining the feasibility of decriminalising cannabis as part of a new approach to tackling drug-related crime in London.

The Labour mayor said he would set up an independent commission to examine the potential health, economic and criminal justice benefits of legalising the class-B drug if he is re-elected in May.

Polls show more than half of the UK – and nearly two-thirds of those in the capital – support making cannabis legal for adult recreational use.

Mr Khan ruled out the decriminalisation of class-A drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

But he is willing to consider supporting changes to the legal status of cannabis if that is what the commission concludes.

A source close to the mayor told the Guardian: ‘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 announcement of the proposal to set up a London drugs commission is expected to be part of Khan’s mayoral election manifesto, published on Tuesday.

Khan will say fresh ideas are needed to counter the illegal drugs trade, which is damaging both Londoners’ health and their communities, as well as fuelling an increase in organised and violent crime.

But this may put him at odds with the leader of the opposition. 

Sadiq Khan will set up a London drugs commission if he is re-elected on May 6 (Picture: Getty)

Sir Keir Starmer has previously said he did not support decriminalising the possession of cannabis and that the current drugs laws are ‘roughly right’. 

However, Sir Keir said in February there ‘may be something’ in initiatives to issue cautions for low-level crimes and there is ‘always room for grown-up debate’ on the issue.

The London drug commission would include independent experts from criminal justice, public health, politics, community relations and academia. 

It would be expected to report to the Mayor with policy recommendations including for City Hall, the police, health services and central Government.

How countries around the world have tackled drug-related crime will be examined including Canada, Uruguay and several US states where cannabis for recreational use has been legalised.

According to the mayor’s office, the illegal drug trade in the UK is estimated to cost society £19bn per year.

About 41,900 people across England and Wales were charged with drug-related offences last year. 

Mr Khan, who has previously called for ‘an evidence based conversation’ around cannabis, cannot create new laws. But he believes that should the commission recommend decriminalisation of cannabis, a mayoral endorsement would give it a boost.

He is expected to say: ‘It’s time for fresh ideas about how to reduce the harms drugs and drug-related crimes cause to individuals, families and communities.

‘The illegal drugs trade causes huge damage to our society – driving serious and violent crime, damaging people’s health and criminalising too many young people.

‘That’s why, if I’m re-elected, I will establish a new London Drugs Commission comprised of independent experts to examine the latest evidence from around the world.

‘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.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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