UK: London mayor Sadiq Khan launches commission to examine cannabis legality

The Guardian reports today

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.


Lord Charlie Falconer QC

London Drugs Commission
Answered By: 
The Mayor
Wednesday, 2nd June 2021
As I set out in my manifesto, I will establish a London Drug Commission of independent experts who will examine the effectiveness of our drugs laws, with a particular focus on cannabis.
Putting this together does not happen overnight, but my officials are working hard on this, and I will be very happy to provide further updates in due course.
Drugs are driving violence, damaging Londoners’ health and dividing communities. It’s time for a fresh, evidence-based look at how best we can reduce the harm that drugs like cannabis cause.
The Commission will be made up of independent experts and leading figures from the fields of criminal justice, public health, politics, community relations and academia.
They will pull together the latest evidence on the effectiveness of our drugs laws, with a particular focus on cannabis.
This does not mean being soft on drugs. On the contrary, I will continue to fully support the MPS in targeting those causing harm to our communities.
And the commission will not look at the classification of Class A drugs, which I am very clear must remain illegal.
But where I do want debate, based on the best evidence from both the UK and from across the globe, is on the most effective way to tackle violence, protect communities and reduce harm.



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.

Khan is now on a four-day visit to the US to promote investment in London to support its recovery from the pandemic. The trip has also included a fact-finding mission to Los Angeles to see the impact of the city’s decision to legalise cannabis in 2016.

Khan has visited a cannabis dispensary and cultivation facility, met licensed retailers and growers, and spoken with officials from the Los Angeles Police Department and the city’s local government.

California legalised the recreational use of cannabis after a public ballot that passed with the approval of 57% of voters, although individual counties and cities can still choose to ban its sale.

Supporters said the move would create a market for safe and regulated cannabis while reducing the power of criminal gangs.

The law change led to a fall in cannabis-related arrests – from 13,810 in 2016 to 6,065 in 2017 – but critics have pointed out that the illicit market continues to thrive, with up to 90% of all sales still coming from unlicensed sellers.

London’s commission will aim to assess the best methods to prevent drug use, the most effective criminal justice responses, and the public health benefits of different approaches.

University College London has been appointed to provide research and analysis on the implications of any potential change in policy.

The commission will not consider class A drugs.


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