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Sadiq Khan cannabis debate
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Sadiq to consider legalising cannabis in London if re-elected

London’s mayor wants the decriminalisation debate back on the table

Written by
Chris Waywell

In a move pretty much guaranteed to bring his campaign right back into the spotlight, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that he will look again at legalising cannabis in the capital for adult recreational use should he be reelected as mayor on May 6.

His proposal is to create an independent drugs commission to weigh up the pros and cons of legalisation, then to take its findings to government. He has made it clear that there is no proposal to look at decriminalising class-A drugs. A source from Sadiq’s campaign is quoted as saying: ‘It will be for the commission to look at the evidence in the round, but nothing is off the table in the context of what is best for public health and keeping Londoners safe.’

It’s a debate that has raged back and forth for decades, and it’s a provocative gesture to raise it again just as London reopens for the summer. But perhaps that’s Sadiq’s point. A year of lockdown has changed the way that we think about a lot of things, so maybe this is the perfect time to think again about cannabis as distinct from other drugs. We’ve brought you story after story about alcohol delivery, takeaway pints, bottled cocktails and the red-letter day of pubs reopening, without really having to consider the downsides of boozing. Plus, decriminalisation could potentially bring a lot of tax revenue into the city. On the other hand, concerns have already been raised about the fragility of people’s mental health after a year of enforced sequestration, so some Londoners might feel that they’re already paranoid and anxious enough, thanks all the same.

How it would work in practice if London unilaterally made it legal to puff away in public is anyone’s guess. Maybe some sort of UHEZ (Ultra High Emission Zone), within which you can get off your face to your heart’s content, but if you stray outside it you have to pay £12.50. Anyway: not our problem.

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