Downing Street says London Mayor Sadiq Khan is ‘wasting his time’ by setting up review to consider decriminalising cannabis if he is re-elected because Boris Johnson ‘will not be changing’ the law
- Sadiq Khan to launch review examining cannabis decriminalisation if re-elected
- But Downing Street today insisted the Mayor of London will be wasting his time
- No10 said drug policy a matter for the UK Government and no plans to change it
Downing Street today said Sadiq Khan is ‘wasting his time’ by pledging to launch a review into the possibility of decriminalising cannabis if he is re-elected as Mayor of London on May 6.
Mr Khan has promised to establish a new commission to examine the use of drugs in the capital if he wins the contest next month.
But Number 10 said this afternoon that policy on controlled drugs ‘is a matter for UK Government’ and Boris Johnson ‘has absolutely no intention of legalising cannabis which is a harmful substance’.
Meanwhile, one of Mr Khan’s political rivals in the race for City Hall, Tory candidate Shaun Bailey, said ‘legalising cannabis is nowhere in the remit’ of the Mayor of London and his counterpart ‘should focus on his actual job’.
Sadiq Khan has promised to establish a new commission to examine the use of drugs in the capital if he wins the London Mayor election next month
But Number 10 said this afternoon that policy on controlled drugs ‘is a matter for UK Government’ and Boris Johnson ‘has absolutely no intention of legalising cannabis which is a harmful substance’
The Labour incumbent has pledged to start the group of independent experts for ‘fresh ideas’ if he wins a new mandate in the May 6 election.
Experts from fields including criminal justice, community relations and public health, will examine evidence on the harms of drugs, support services and prevention, the effectiveness of current laws as well as tackling the root causes of crime.
It would be expected to report to the Mayor with policy recommendations including for City Hall, the police, health services and central Government.
The Guardian reported that according to a source close to the mayor, Mr Khan would be willing to consider supporting changes to the legal status of cannabis if that is the view of the commission.
The Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Allegra Stratton said of the proposed review: ‘Well, policy on controlled drugs is a matter for UK Government and there are no plans to devolve this responsibility and the Prime Minister has spoken about this on many occasions.
‘Illicit drugs destroy lives and he has absolutely no intention of legalising cannabis which is a harmful substance.’
Asked if the PM would support Mr Khan’s review, Ms Stratton said: ‘No. His approach will not be changing.’
Asked if she believed Mr Khan to therefore be ‘wasting his time’ by promising a review, Ms Stratton replied: ‘That is correct. Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, will know that the policy of controlled drugs is a matter for the UK Government. It is not a matter for his office.’
Mr Bailey said: ‘The Mayor of London is a big role with big responsibilities. But legalising cannabis is nowhere in the remit.
‘Sadiq Khan should focus on his actual job – not on policies he has no control over.’
The mayor’s office said the illegal drug trade in Britain is estimated to cost society almost £20billion per year, with nearly 42,000 people in England and Wales charged with drugs-related offences last year.
The Mayor of London believes there is widespread public support for a more relaxed approach to decriminalisation. His campaign team cited polls showing more than half of the UK, and nearly two-thirds of Londoners, support decriminalising cannabis for recreational use
Some estimates suggest that legalisation and the regulation of the sale of cannabis would raise at least £1billion in taxes for the Treasury.
Announcing the commission, Mr Khan said: ‘It’s time for fresh ideas about how to reduce the harms drugs and drug-related crimes cause to individuals, families and communities.
‘The illegal drugs trade causes huge damage to our society – driving serious and violent crime, damaging people’s health and criminalising too many young people.
‘That’s why, if I’m re-elected, I will establish a new London Drugs Commission comprised of independent experts to examine the latest evidence from around the world.
‘The commission will make recommendations focusing on the most effective laws to tackle crime, protect Londoners’ health and reduce the huge damage that illegal drugs, including cannabis, cause to our communities and society.’
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