London could ‘legalise weed’ as Mayor Sadiq Khan vows to examine benefits

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan has promised to look into legalising weed in London.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he has "no intention" of legalising cannabis after Khan suggested he'd back the move if re-elected as London Mayor.

The Labour mayor pledged to set up an independent drugs commission in the capital in his election manifesto on Tuesday.

Khan is favourite to be re-elected on May 6 and claimed "fresh ideas" are needed to tackle drugs problems in London.

The commission will bring in experts from criminal justice, community relations and public health.

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

Khan has previously called for “an evidence-based conversation” around cannabis.

On Tuesday he said: “It’s time for fresh ideas about how to reduce the harms drugs and drug-related crimes cause to individuals, families and communities.

“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.”

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A source close to Khan this week 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."

It comes after a survey found 63% of Londoners backed legalising the Class B drug in 2019.

A cross-party Commons health committee called for the government to consult on the decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use that year as well.

It said taking a health-based approach would benefit users and reduce harm and costs to the wider community.

The Prime Minister's press secretary Allegra Stratton was asked by reporters what Mr Johnson's response was to Sadiq Khan's pledge of establishing a drugs commission in London if re-elected.

She told a Westminster briefing: "Policy on controlled drugs is a matter for UK Government and there are no plans to devolve this responsibility.

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"The Prime Minister has spoken about this on many occasion – illicit drugs destroy lives and he has absolutely no intention of legalising cannabis, which is a harmful substance."

Ms Stratton added: "Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, will know that the policy on controlled drugs is a matter for the UK Government. It's not a matter for his office."

Khan's Survation survey found that 63% of London residents backed the legalisation and regulation of cannabis, while just 19% opposed the idea.

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Across the UK as a whole, 47% backed legalisation, with 30% against.

Legalising and regulating the sale of cannabis would raise at least £1bn in taxes for the Treasury, according to some estimates.

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has recently said he was opposed to decriminalisation.

He told Sky News that the current drugs laws were “roughly right”, but there was “always room for a grown-up debate about how we deal with these cases”.

  • Boris Johnson
  • Cannabis
  • Drugs
  • London

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