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London Mayor Announces Plan To Study Cannabis Legalization

After visiting an LA dispensary, Sadiq Khan of London announced that he was going to investigate the legalization. Khan stated that he would form a committee to examine cannabis legalization, and he named an official from the Labour Party to lead it.

Khan visited cannabis farms and learned about the variety of cannabis products that are available in licensed dispensaries. The London mayor said that the commission he was appointing would examine the effectiveness of the city’s drug laws and explore how legalizing pot could help reduce “drug-related harm.”

“The illegal drugs trade causes huge damage to our society and we need to do more to tackle this epidemic and further the debate around our drugs laws,” Khan said. “That’s why I am in LA to see first-hand the approach they have taken to cannabis.”

They will compile evidence about cannabis legalization around the world. The panel will examine the public health benefits and best ways to avoid misuse and implement effective law enforcement strategies. This panel will recommend to City Hall, government officials, law enforcement and public health officers. This summer, more appointments will be made to the commission. This is the first year that London Drugs Commission should report.

Khan was taken on tour by Eric Garcetti (the Los Angeles Mayor) and representatives from the cannabis industry. Khan’s aides noted that regulated pot has generated millions of dollars in tax revenue for Los Angeles while providing economic opportunities for business owners and workers.

“The decriminalization and legalization of cannabis offers historically marginalized communities opportunities for healing, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation in this growing industry,” Garcetti said. “Cities have so much to learn from one another, and I applaud Mayor Khan’s thoughtful approach as London moves forward.”

Khan announced that he had appointed Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor in Tony Blair’s government and a current member of the Labour Party’s shadow cabinet, to lead the commission tasked with studying issues surrounding the potential legalization of cannabis in London. Khan is hopeful that the work done by the commission will stimulate discussion about cannabis policy reform. Khan intends to return to London with the knowledge he gained from his trip to Los Angeles (which was only one of a four day trade mission to America), to inform the debate on the subject.

“We must learn from others when considering our approach, and by examining the latest evidence from around the world and the world-class research from UCL, Lord Falconer and the commission will make recommendations to improve our approach to cannabis to help tackle drug-related crime, protect Londoners’ health and reduce the huge damage that illegal drugs cause to our communities,” said Khan.

Khan had previously confessed to smoking cannabis during a party in Amsterdam.

“I was young once and I’m not a prude,” he told reporters in 2018. “And I did inhale as well.”

Reform of the Cannabis Policy

To gain additional perspective on legalization and regulation of cannabis, the London delegation met with officials from Los Angeles Police Department and city officials. Khan began exploring the topic of cannabis policy reform in 2019 when he demanded a review of national cannabis policies and laws after numerous violent crimes related to illegal drugs.

“It is a real opportunity for there to be a thorough look at the effectiveness of our drugs laws and policy on cannabis,” said Lord Falconer. “We need rigorously to identify what is the best approach to reduce harm to our communities. National debate is needed. We aim to make recommendations to bring about effective and lasting change.”

But news of Khan’s commission was not received well back in the United Kingdom. Home Secretary Priti Patel, a member of the ruling Conservative Party, slammed the London mayor’s plans to decriminalize cannabis.

“Sadiq Khan’s time would be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London,” Patel said, as quoted by the Daily Mail. “The Mayor has no powers to legalize drugs. They ruin communities, tear apart families and destroy lives.”

Khan must also gain support from his party’s leadership if marijuana legalization is to be a reality in the U.K. Keir Sternmer, party leader, would most likely be against efforts at reform.

“Labour does not support changing the law on drugs,” said a spokesperson for the party. “Drugs policy is not devolved to mayors and under Labour would continue to be set by national government.”