London, England Mayor Convenes Group to Explore Cannabis Decriminalization

Mayor Sadiq Khan of London, England has convened a commission to investigate decriminalizing cannabis throughout the U.K. despite opposition from some national officials.

Full story after the jump.

London, England Mayor Sadiq Khan has convened a group to explore whether to decriminalize cannabis in the United Kingdom, the BBC reports. The London Drugs Commission will feature former Justice Secretary Lord Charlie Falconer QC as its chair; however, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the group is wasting its time as Khan “has no powers to legalize drugs.”

In England and Wales, cannabis possession was the top drugs offense last year, according to a House of Commons report. In the U.K., cannabis is a Class B drug, and possession convictions can lead to a five-year jail term.

“We need to have an honest, open conversation about the evidence in relation to the history of cannabis and our laws in the UK, and our experience of the health consequences in relation to crime and the community. The best way to do that will be with the drugs commission we’ve now set up. You can hear from the experts, that’s one thing, but seeing it for yourself… hearing from those who cultivate and grow this plant, has been fascinating.” – Khan to the BBC

In January, Khan said he was seeking to adopt a cannabis decriminalization pilot program that would offer guidance on drug use instead of arresting young adults between the ages of 18 and 24.

In a tweet, Patel pushed back on the plan, saying the mayor’s “time would be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London.”

Khan’s own Labour Party also distanced themselves from the plan, telling the BBC that “drugs policy is not devolved to mayors and under Labour would continue to be set by national government.”

Once the commission has completed its work, it will make recommendations to London officials, the federal government, police, criminal justice, and public health services. University College London will provide feedback and analysis on the impact of any possible policy changes.

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