London, England Mayor Sadiq Khan is developing a plan to decriminalize cannabis possession for young people in the city, the Guardian reports. The plan is based on a model from Thames Valley police which offers classes or counseling, rather than arrest, for individuals under 25-years-old who are caught with small quantities of cannabis.
The mayor does not have the power to decriminalize any outlawed substances but the pilot program could be enacted if it receives approval from the mayor’s office for policing and crime, the report says.
A spokesman for Khan described the planned trial as “limited,” “still in development,” and “yet to be approved by City Hall.” The plan would involve three of London’s 32 boroughs and only apply to individuals aged 18-24.
“The idea of the scheme, which is already used by other police forces across the country, would be to divert young people who are found with a small amount of cannabis away from the criminal justice system and instead provide help and support. This has been shown to reduce reoffending. … Reducing crime is the mayor’s top priority and he will continue to explore and implement the most effective solutions to help to divert young people away from drug use and crime for good.” — A spokesman for Khan to the Guardian
The plan, broadly, is opposed by Labor Party Leader Keir Starmer and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“We have absolutely no intention of decriminalizing dangerous and harmful substances for recreational use,” a spokesman for Johnson told the Guardian. “Decriminalization would leave organized criminals in control while risking an increase in drug use, which drives crime and violence which blights our streets.”
Starmer said he would “look at” the proposal but that he was “not in favor” of changing the nation’s drug laws “or decriminalization.”
The mayor will receive recommendations from a commission on the proposal for City Hall, the government, the police, the criminal justice system, the National Health Service, and treatment services.
According to the Guardian, about 41,900 people across England and Wales were charged with drug-related offenses last year.
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