London Mayor Khan Open to Decriminalising Cannabis to Cut Crime

London Mayor British Sadiq Khan speaks on stage in Parliament Square in central London on

Sadiq Khan has signalled that he is open to decriminalising cannabis possession, calling for an “evidence-based conversation” about the drug.

Mr Khan told the Evening Standard: “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.

“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.”

The Labour mayor said that there is a “clear link” between the rise in the drugs market and increasing violent crime across the United Kingdom. Khan made the comments after the capital saw its 122nd murder on Friday.

London is on course to exceed last year’s murder rate, which was itself a ten-year high.

Analysis by the London Assembly’s Conservatives pointed to a rise in crime in London since Mr Khan became mayor in 2016. Just this week, a south London drugs gang was convicted for crimes including the production and supply of a class B drug, possession of a class A drug, and money laundering.

Two members of the Croydon drugs gang, brothers Gerald and Myles Shaw, were busted in a May 2018 raid, with police finding a large cannabis factory in the Shaw’s home. Investigators found plants with a street value of an estimated £10,000, as well as £2,000 in cash, and several mobile phones.

Fellow gang members Aaron Bennett and Nathan McEachron were arrested the following month, with police finding £20,000 stashed in a laundry basket, an armchair, and pairs of socks at Bennett’s home, according to MyLondon.

London has seen an increase in so-called “County Lines” crime, which the National Crime Agency has said is fueling a rise in crime in the capital, with other reports linking the drug dealing gangs to growing knife crime.

County Lines are city-based drug-trafficking networks where dealers groom minors into selling drugs to customers in the suburbs and nearby towns and villages. While dealers may cross physical county boundaries to reach their clients, the name actually derives from the burner mobile phone “deal lines” that clients use to make their orders.

Most of the lines originate in London, and the BBC reported in September that research by City Hall had identified 400 Londoners in these drugs gangs.

The Standard found that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of Londoners back the legalisation of the class B drug for adult recreational use.

Mr Khan said last year he was opposed to the relaxation of narcotics laws; this recent change in position may be politically motivated in part, with the mayor readying for a re-election campaign next year.

The Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita said last month that she would also seek to “wage war” on crugs gangs by decriminalising cannabis, somewhat counter-intuitively.

“It’s time we legalise the cannabis market, decriminalise possession of cannabis and create a far more supportive approach to people who are suffering from addiction,” Ms Benita said.

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