Sadiq Kahn’s re-election as London Mayor may be a tipping point in the legalization of cannabis in the UK. Kahn narrowly defeated his Conservative Party rival Sean Bailey in the 5 May 2021 series of UK elections.
Pro-cannabis beat anti-crime in voter appeal
His pro-cannabis reform campaign appears to have outweighed his opponent’s focus on crime, and although his powers around legalization are limited, he intends setting up an independent London drugs commission to examine the potential health, economic and criminal justice benefits of decriminalising the class-B drug and says if the commission supports legalization he will back it. Kahn’s campaign strategy provoked controversy within his Labour Party but the numbers speak in his favour.
Kahn in tune with the fact that Londoners want legal cannabis
The most recent survey of public opinion, carried out by Survation, (albeit in 2019, before medical marijuana was legalized in November 2020) found that:
- 63% of Londoners back legalisation and regulation of adult-use cannabis
- 19% were strongly opposed;
- 18% were open to suggestion either way
Cannabis Boom May Shift Conservative Attitudes
Although he’s admitted to smoking weed, UK’s Johnson remains anti-legalization
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come out firmly against legalization, but the economic impact of the worldwide cannabis industry may force him to reconsider his views (just as US president Joe Biden, one of the architects of the ‘War Against Drugs’ has conceded he was wrong). London itself has seen a surge of market activity since the beginning of 2021.
Cannabis could be a lift for the post-Covid UK fiscus
According to Wikipedia, UK economists believe the UK could earn over 204 million British Pounds a year if cannabis was completely legalized:
“In early 2018, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) published a report looking at the size of the UK cannabis market and the potential implications of legalisation. The report concluded that the current UK cannabis black market is worth over £2.5bn and cannabis tax yields could be between £204 million and £571 million. The recommendation from the IEA is that if cannabis is legalised, the duty rate should not be too high, as high tax would make retail prices less competitive and could prevent significant shrinkage of the black market.
The Head of Lifestyle Economics at the IEA described legalisation of cannabis as a “win-win-win”, noting: “criminals lose a lucrative industry, consumers get a better, safer and cheaper product and the burden on the general taxpayer is reduced”.”