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London Mayor Provokes Showdown Over UK Cannabis Legalization

London Mayor Sadiq Kahn, of the Labour Party, has taken the proverbial bull by the horns and made cannabis legalization the centre of his re-election campaign. In doing so he’s earned a quick slap-down by the Conservative Party Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who says legalization is way off the national radar. 

Khan has also exposed the Labour Party’s own cannabis policy confusion as party leader Keir Starmer’s comments to SkyNews indicate. Starmer, who’s traditionally been against cannabis reform, thinks the current legalization of medical marijuana is:

  • “roughly right”, but
  • “that there was always room for a grown-up debate about how we deal with these cases”.

Somebody should remind him that the politics of democracy is a numbers game. Kahn, who wants to hold onto his job after the 6 May 2021 London mayoral election, will be reminding his party leader of what the numbers say.   

And somebody should also remind Boris Johnson that he’s not only puffed on a joint but inhaled as well. Check out Boris Johnson’s Weed Hypocrisy and a Full List of the UK Political Establishment Who’ve Admitted Smoking Cannabis Illegally


London cannabis protest

Londoners overwhelmingly want legalization


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


Nationwide, the survey found that:

  • 47% of UK citizens back legalization;
  • 30% were against;
  • 23% were undecided


Khan said that if he’s re-elected he will set 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.


Johnson and Khan: radically different approaches to cannabis reform


However, Downing Street was quick to react to Khan’s announcement. On April 6, he Prime Minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton said that the Prime Minister had “absolutely no intention of legalising cannabis” and insisted that policy on controlled drugs was a matter for central government and not for the Mayor.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary, Allegra Stratton, took a stern stance at the idea of decriminalising the class-B drug and said it was an “illicit” substance that “destroyed lives.”

“The prime minister has spoken about this on many occasions – illicit drugs destroy lives and we, he, has absolutely no intention of legalising cannabis, which is a harmful substance.”

Asked if Khan would be wasting his time with a review, she 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’s not a matter for his office.”

Khan will say fresh ideas are needed to counter the illegal drugs trade, which is damaging both Londoners’ health and their communities, as well as fuelling an increase in organised and violent crime. Too many young people are criminalised for use of of drugs, he believes.

The illegal drug trade in the UK is estimated to cost society £19bn per year, according to the mayor’s office. About 41,900 people across England and Wales were charged with drug-related offences last year. Legalising and regulating the sale of cannabis would raise at least £1bn in taxes for the Treasury, according to some estimates.

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