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London Mayor Still To Pursue Cannabis Reform Despite Political Pushback

Earlier this year the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched a commission to explore London’s cannabis enforcement policies in addition to other drug enforcement policies. Taking a hard look at London’s cannabis policies was one of Mayor Khan’s campaign pledges during his re-election bid.

One of the things that Mayor Khan is essentially pushing for is cannabis decriminalization, which is not as good as outright legalization yet is obviously superior than arresting people caught with a personal amount of cannabis.

Khan’s desire to change London’s cannabis enforcement policies was condemned by other officials, including Steve Reed, the Labour’s Party’s shadow justice secretary. As we previously reported, Reed made the ridiculous claim that cannabis decriminalization would “turn London into a drug supermarket.”

It appears that London Mayor Sadiq Khan is undeterred, indicating that he will proceed with his his reform commission plans regardless of what others think. Per My London:

But Mr Khan told Labour conference there was a need to look again at the legislation. He said he meets young black Londoners every week who have a criminal record because of possession of cannabis: “That record affects them for their entire life. I meet experts who tell me the consequences of dangerous skunk being sold in an unregulated market and the psychosis it can cause.”

He added: “I’ve got a genuine open mind. I’m going to look at what the commission comes back with, follow the evidence, and decide what to do going forward…if it means going against public opinion like I did with air quality…I’ll do it.”

It wouldn’t be public opinion that Khan would be going against if/when he chooses to change London’s cannabis enforcement practices. As we previously reported, people in London support a change in cannabis enforcement practices in their city per a recent YouGov poll.

“New YouGov data finds that Londoners support decriminalising cannabis within the boundaries of the capital by 50% to 33%. However opinion is divided across party lines, with 64% of the capital’s Labour voters supporting such a move compared to only 34% of Conservative voters.” YouGov stated at the time.

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Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary Says London Cannot Decriminalize Cannabis

Back in mid-May the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched a commission to explore London’s cannabis policies. The ‘London Drugs Commission,’ as it is referred to, is chaired by Lord Charlie Falconer QC, a former lord chancellor and justice secretary. Reviewing London’s cannabis policies was one of Mayor Khan’s pledges during his re-election campaign.

One of the specific public policy components that was heavily reported as being in Mayor Khan’s crosshairs is cannabis decriminalization. People in London support a change in cannabis enforcement in London per a YouGov poll that we previously reported on earlier this month.

“New YouGov data finds that Londoners support decriminalising cannabis within the boundaries of the capital by 50% to 33%. However opinion is divided across party lines, with 64% of the capital’s Labour voters supporting such a move compared to only 34% of Conservative voters.” YouGov stated at the time.

Unfortunately, at least some leaders within the Labour Party seem to have failed to look at the polling data, or at the very least disregarded it, as they are pushing back against any changes in cannabis policy and enforcement in London. The latest example of that comes from Steve Reed, the Labour’s Party’s shadow justice secretary. Per Eastern Eye:

Steve Reed said that the party would not look to decriminalise or legalise any recreational drugs, and Khan will not be given powers to do so, reported The Telegraph. He added that Labour will not allow Khan to turn London into a ‘drug supermarket’.

“Khan is entitled to his view, but mayors will not be responsible under this government or under a Labour government for that policy. So he can express whatever he likes, but he’ll never have the opportunity to do it under a Labour government because we won’t be liberalising drugs laws,” Reed was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

“He’s contributing to a debate, but he won’t have the power to do anything about it, however that comes about.”

According to media reports, Mayor Khan wants to implement a similar pilot program that was created by the Thames Valley police in which young adults caught with a personal amount of cannabis undergo classes or counseling instead of being arrested and prosecuted.

Forcing young people into classes or counseling for personal cannabis possession in itself is not ideal, however, it’s definitely not an enforcement approach that should be categorized as seeking to “turn London into a drug supermarket.”

As the potential government showdown continues to develop in the United Kingdom it is worth keeping an eye on the situation, as it could have ramifications for the national cannabis policy discussion in addition to the ongoing local discussion.

london

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People In London Support Cannabis Decriminalization By Wide Margin

Back in May we reported that London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced that a commission would be launched to explore, among other things, cannabis policy reform. Cannabis reform is spreading across the European continent at an ever-increasing rate in most countries, however, the United Kingdom is not one of them.

When cannabis reform cannot be achieved at a national level, it’s wise for cannabis activists to focus their efforts locally. If enough local victories are won it builds momentum for larger reform efforts at a higher level.

With that in mind, any changes in cannabis policy and/or enforcement in London would be a great thing, and that appears to be something that many Londoners support according to the results of a new poll. Per excerpts from YouGov:

New YouGov data finds that Londoners support decriminalising cannabis within the boundaries of the capital by 50% to 33%. However opinion is divided across party lines, with 64% of the capital’s Labour voters supporting such a move compared to only 34% of Conservative voters.

Younger Londoners are also notably more likely to support a change in the law, with 52% of 18-24s and 56% of 25–49-year-olds supporting decriminalisation, versus 45% of 50-64 year olds and 34% of those aged 65 and over.

Of course, 17% of poll participants indicated that they ‘didn’t know’ whether they support cannabis decriminalization or not. However, it’s a safe bet that many of them, if properly educated on the subject, would move from the ‘don’t know’ category to ‘support.’

It’s also likely a safe bet that many people that do support cannabis reform refrained from indicating so when asked for fear of being subjected to persecution and/or stigma. It’s a phenomenon that is regularly found in cannabis polling.

Polls consistently demonstrate a lower level of support than there actually is, as proven by comparing polling results and election results in places that vote on cannabis.

london

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London Mayor Appoints Drug Commissioner To Explore Cannabis Legalization

Sadiq Khan appoints a former member of Tony Blair’s cabinet and current Labour shadow cabinet member to examine decriminalization

Sadiq Khan has been on at least a cannabis decriminalization kick for the past couple of years. He announced last year in April that he wanted to set up a commission to examine the impact of at least cannabis decriminalization. In January, he announced that he wanted to set up a decriminalization scheme in three London boroughs. This month, after visiting a cannabis plant in Los Angeles, he is moving forward with setting up his commission.

While City Hall in London does not have the power to change criminal law on a federal basis in the UK, it can certainly influence the debate.

Khan is particularly interested in two issues – producing income in the form of taxes for the state – and reducing cannabis-related arrests. Arrests for cannabis dropped by 56% after California legalized the cultivation, production, and sale of the plant.

Could The UK Follow Switzerland and Germany?

Khan’s commission will take another year to study the issue – in part by conducting a global survey on the health impacts of decriminalizing the plant.

In the meantime, however, both Germany and Switzerland will be moving towards a full-blown recreational market. In Switzerland, it is clear that the first step will be a highly limited, canton-by-canton trial that must first gain the approval of the federal government. In Germany, the indications are that the government will launch a fully functional market immediately.

By next year, when Khan’s commission reports back, there will, in fact, be (at least) four recreational markets in Europe (counting Malta) and potentially five if Luxembourg also takes the opportunity of the changing environment to release their plans. Holland’s national plan will kick in as of next year.

This is powerful evidence indeed – beyond of course the history of both Canada and the legalizing U.S. states.

The UK’s CBD Market May Also Provide a Model

The UK has actually moved ahead of many European states (including Germany) by allowing several thousand pre-approved CBD products onto the market. This government-sanctioned commercialization of the CBD industry could also lead the UK to move forward with full legalization, particularly if other countries in Europe are also moving forward on legalizing recreational use.

However, no matter what happens, there will still be a period of consideration – no matter what Khan and his commission come back with. And in the meantime, the UK will watch several markets in Europe begin to establish themselves, and potentially the US as well.

One thing is for sure. The British are not leading this one.

london

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London Mayor Launches Commission To Examine Cannabis Policy

Cannabis reform is sweeping the European continent, with at least one country now a legal jurisdiction for adult use. Late last year Malta became the first country in Europe to pass an adult-use legalization measure.

Italy was on track to possibly legalize cannabis this year after activists gathered and submitted over 630,000 signatures in an attempt to put legalization in front of voters. Unfortunately, even though the effort proved to have gathered enough valid signatures Italy’s government stopped the effort in its tracks, claiming that it was unconstitutional to let it proceed.

Cannabis legalization pilot programs are starting to spread across Europe. Copenhagen already has a program underway and the pilot program is set to expand across Denmark as more jurisdictions sign up. Switzerland is launching its first pilot program site in Basel this summer, and hopefully by 2023, the Netherlands will do the same.

Germany’s governing coalition previously announced plans to legalize cannabis in the near future, and last week Germany’s Health Minister announced that the timeline for legalization would be sped up with legalization possibly coming as soon as this summer.

In the midst of all of the momentum for cannabis reform on the continent one country that has moved almost as slow as any other nation is the United Kingdom. The UK’s medical cannabis program is extremely limited and has only helped a minor fraction of the number of suffering patients that exist in the UK. Recreational cannabis possession and use remain prohibited.

London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, announced this week that a commission will be launched to explore, among other things, cannabis policy reform. Per The Guardian:

Sadiq Khan has announced a commission to examine the effectiveness of the UK’s drug laws, with a particular focus on those governing cannabis.

The London drugs commission, to be chaired by Lord Charlie Falconer QC, a former lord chancellor and justice secretary, was one of Khan’s manifesto pledges in his re-election bid last year.

The mayor of London’s office said a panel of independent experts in criminal justice, public health, politics, community relations and academia will be assembled to consider evidence from around the world on the outcomes of various drug policies.

The announcement was made while Khan was in Los Angeles where he toured a cannabis cultivation facility. The announcement of the commission yielded swift pushback from the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom Priti Patel. Per The Times:

The home secretary has criticised the mayor of London after he set up a commission to consider the decriminalisation of cannabis.

Priti Patel told Sadiq Kahn that he “has no powers to legalise drugs”.

“Sadiq Khan’s time would be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London. The mayor has no powers to legalise drugs. They ruin communities, tear apart families and destroy lives,” Patel said in a tweet.

For starters, the War on Drugs ruins communities, tears apart families, and destroys lives. That is a fact. It is also a fact that the War on Drugs has failed, both in the United Kingdom and beyond. Patel’s tweet obviously disregards those facts.

Secondly, as I understand it, what Khan has proposed is essentially a fact-finding commission, not a commission that will actually seek to change policies. I suppose that it could evolve to a point where that is being pursued, however, that does not appear to be the case right now.

What does appear to be the case, at least in my opinion, is that Patel and other like-minded officials are probably scared of what the commission will potentially find and publish. It’s much easier for Patel and others to peddle reefer madness rhetoric without the existence of a commission like the one that Khan is launching.

england, london, United Kingdom

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London Mayor Calls For Changes To Cannabis Enforcement Practices

In most developed countries people have a basic set of rights. Those basic rights could be the result of legislation, the nation’s constitutional provisions, or court decisions. However they were created, basic rights are essential to citizens of every nation and they should be universally accepted and protected worldwide.

Unfortunately, cannabis prohibition has served as a tool to get around many of those basic legal rights. Once a law enforcement official determines that cannabis may be present, that’s all it takes for many basic legal protections to be tossed aside. Keep in mind that cannabis doesn’t actually have to be present – just the allegation thereof.

It’s a tactic that is employed by law enforcement all over the globe, including in London where a horrific scenario unfolded recently in which law enforcement searched a teenage girl in a very violating manner, all in an attempt to find the cannabis that they claimed the teenager was in possession of. The details of the search are graphic, and readers should be cautious when researching it.

I am hopeful that the victim that was subjected to the police brutality seeks and receives justice in some manner, although it will never be enough to make up for what they were subjected to. It’s a traumatic experience that I assume will negatively impact them the rest of their life, and that is unacceptable. The public outcry regarding the situation has resulted in London’s Mayor calling for changes to cannabis enforcement. Per excerpts from London World:

Sadiq Khan has demanded the Met Police bring in stricter controls over stop and search policing when the “smell of cannabis” is the sole grounds for the intervention.

The London mayor has released his plan for policing in the capital over the next three years.

The mayor said his priorities were reducing and preventing violent crime; rebuilding trust and confidence in the police; supporting victims; and protecting people from criminal exploitation.

The plan also includes “stricter oversight and scrutiny of the ‘smell of cannabis’ used as sole grounds for stop and search”, as well as “developing community-led training for officers”.

The mayor’s plan is obviously something, but it clearly doesn’t go far enough. Training officers is not enough. Providing “stricter oversight” is not enough. The only thing that will prevent this from happening again is to end cannabis prohibition.

Obviously, the Mayor of London alone cannot end cannabis prohibition in England. However, they can champion the issue wholeheartedly and be a major voice calling for a complete end to cannabis prohibition in England and beyond.

It’s unfortunate that this latest example of the horrors of cannabis prohibition occurred at all. Hopefully the public outcry doesn’t subside and the citizens of London and beyond keep the pressure on lawmakers to introduce, pass, and implement sensible cannabis policies.

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