London party

Does the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, really want to decriminalize cannabis in the British capital?

The mayor of the UK capital, Sadiq Khan (belonging to the Labor Party), is considering developing a program to offer an alternative to arresting people captured with a small amount of cannabis.

According to The Guardian, the diversion program, which is still under development, is said to be based on providing education and counseling, rather than arrest, to people under the age of 25 caught in possession of small amounts of drugs. cannabis.

The plan would involve three boroughs in the UK capital, but the pilot project has yet to receive approval from the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Khan was considering decriminalizing cannabis in London. However, Khan denied this report, insisting he did not have the authority to do so.

The mayor’s spokesperson told Sky News UK that Khan believes drug use and related crimes are preventable and not inevitable.

However, the Mayor of London has faced criticism from the UK government over this drug initiative as it would allow low-level cannabis users to avoid prosecution, although his plan appears to be in line with other drug diversion programs in the United States. government.

The political collision between the Mayor of London and the UK government over drug policy is not new.

In early 2021, when Khan announced his intention to launch a study into the benefits of decriminalizing cannabis in the British capital, Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned Khan’s plans. In addition, he reaffirmed that drug policy is the business of the UK government.

In December 2021, Johnson announced he was pledging $ 948million (£ 700million) over three years to tackle drug use, adopting measures to remove drug addicts from the criminal justice system and bring them into Healthcare. But at the same time, Johnson ordered a “zero tolerance” approach to drugs in prisons.

In this context, the glimmer of a political debate on the decriminalization or legalization of cannabis in the United Kingdom seems far from being reached.

The UK has one of the most restrictive drug policies on the European continent. Drug diversion programs, police-run programs aimed at diverting people caught in the act of a minor offense, aim to remove low-level drug users from the criminal justice system. However, according to several experts, drug diversion programs are seen as de facto decriminalization. But being caught in possession of small amounts of cannabis can still create problems, as criminal record disclosure can bar people from traveling abroad to particular jurisdictions and limit them from applying for specific positions.

Political positions on the decriminalization of cannabis in the UK are quite fragmented. Only the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party aim to regulate cannabis in the UK. But the two big parties, Labor and Conservatives, seem inclined not to open any debate on the decriminalization or legalization of cannabis. However, some sections of these parties seem less intransigent than their political leaders. They are open to discussion of evidence-based decriminalization of cannabis, sweeping the stigma of cannabis onto the political debate.

Even Labor leader Keir Starmer did not approve of the London initiative and joined in the British Prime Minister’s criticism of Khan’s plan. “On drug law, I have said it several times, and I will say it again: I am not in favor of us changing the law or decriminalization. I am very clear on this. Obviously, we will look into it. those, but I am very clear that we are not in favor of changing the drug laws, ”he said on January 4, after giving a speech in Birmingham.

Khan will not be able to decriminalize cannabis in London as it falls under the purview of the UK government. However, his position on the decriminalization of cannabis represents added value to the debate on drug policy in the UK. There is still little information on how the pilot project Khan planned will work effectively. As diversion programs can vary across the UK they could be taken as an example of Khan’s plan to be implemented in other UK towns.