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The Mayor of London is looking to legalise cannabis

Sadiq Khan has launched a new commission to examine the efficiency of the UK’s drug laws. Whether or not cannabis should remain criminalised is a major focus point.

Though hip-hop and reggae artists have been reciting bars about their love for the sticky green for decades, legal and societal perspectives on cannabis have only started shifting towards greater acceptance in the 21st century.

At present, eighteen states in the US have legalised marijuana for recreational use. That legalisation has presented new investment opportunities, employment growth, and increased tax revenues for governments.

In fact, California’s government collected a tremendous $1 billion in cannabis tax revenue before 2021 was even over. And in light of an impending financial crisis, why wouldn’t London’s liberal Mayor want to seek out advice about legalisation from The Golden State?

Sadiq Khan has done exactly that, taking a self-proclaimed ‘fact-finding’ trip to LA, with the aim of understanding and seeing first-hand the success of the city’s 2018 marijuana legalisation.

He has already visited a dispensary and cultivation facility (which he described as ‘fascinating’), rubbed elbows with licensed retailers and growers, and held discussions with both the LAPD and local governments.

Over in London, Sadiq Khan’s first-of-its-kind Drugs Commission is looking at drug policies from various countries around the world and collecting data on their outcomes.

The London Drugs Commission consists of a panel of independent experts in criminal justice, public health, politics, community relations, as well as academics from UCL who will help build a data-rich case on Mary Jane.

Of course, the mayor won’t have the power to change the laws himself – and his panel has been told not to reconsider class A drugs – but Mr Khan’s open-minded position on cannabis makes him strong advocate for change.

No doubt, the social benefits that stem from decriminalisation will be included in proposals. These include removing power and funds from criminal gangs and creating a safer or better product for users.

On top of this, decriminalisation will allow British police to focus on dealing with more serious crimes, something MPs have been mentioning more frequently in recent years.

For example, former police officer and Lord Brian Paddick has said ‘the UK’s outdated drug laws are doing more harm than good. Stopping, arresting, and prosecuting thousands of people just for possession of cannabis for personal use is a waste of police and court time.’

‘Meanwhile, the vast majority of burglaries go unsolved, and even crimes that are prosecuted drag on for years before victims get justice because the courts are clogged-up with minor drugs cases.’

He’s not lying. The police spend an arguably ridiculous amount of time arresting people over what is essentially a flower.

According to the 2020-2021 report on Drug Crime in England and Wales, the main drug offence recorded was ‘possession of cannabis,’ accounting for 63 percent of total offences.

Decriminalising weed could potentially reduce opportunities for arrest made based on racial profiling. It is known that Black people living in the UK are twelve times more likely to be prosecuted for cannabis possession than white people are.

Data collected by the Home Office also revealed that a Black person is nine times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs compared to a white person, but no more likely to be found in possession of them.

So aside from making him the most chill politician Britain has seen in recent years, Sadiq Khan’s push to legalise weed could prevent communities and families from being broken apart by arrests made for petty drug crimes.

I guess we’ll just have to see if lawmakers give him the green…. light. Eh?

 

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