London calling: Mayor backs re-examining U.K. cannabis laws to reduce violent crime

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The Mayor of London is calling for a review of U.K. cannabis prohibition, which he believes to be instrumental in the link between violent crime and drugs.

Although Sadiq Khan has previously opposed loosening the country’s drug laws, he said it is time for U.K. legislators to participate in an “evidence-based” discussion about prohibition, legalization and policing as the city struggles with knife-related assaults and stabbings.

In the wake of London’s 122nd murder of 2019, Khan told the Evening Standard, which found that 63 percent of London residents support cannabis legalization, that it was time to rethink cannabis law in the capital and beyond.

“The time is right for our society to have an evidence-based conversation about cannabis — about the law, how it is enforced and how we support those struggling with addiction,” the mayor stated.

“It goes without saying that I will continue to support the police to enforce the law as it stands, but all Londoners will benefit if we can start a conversation that leads to a reduction in violent crime.”

Cannabis is categorized as a Class B drug — other such drugs include amphetamines, codeine, ketamine and barbiturates — in the U.K. Under current laws, those caught possessing non-medical cannabis are subject to a “three strikes” system before being subject to a fine, and then arrest.

Users can be jailed for up to five years; that almost triples to 14 if found guilty of supplying or producing cannabis.

It looks like Mayor Khan may have allies in the House of Commons. Last week, a report from a group of MPs on the health committee called for the country to follow the steps of countries like Canada and Uruguay, which have federally legalized the drug for adult use.

Khan said there is a “clear link” between the spike in violent crime and the expanding illicit drug market in the country, and that legalization or decriminalization may reduce the instances of knife crime and other violence that currently plague London.

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