Starmer and Johnson united against mayor’s relaxation of drug policy — Analysis

Sadiq Khan will replace the detention system with counselling for young people who have been caught using small quantities of marijuana.

London’s mayor has made plans to introduce a pilot program which will de-facto decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis among youths. Labour’s leader has already resisted the project.

On Tuesday, the Telegraph reported that, under the new proposals, under-25s caught with the drug in some London boroughs would be given speeding-course-style classes rather than being arrested.

Police would be required to not arrest anyone under the age of 21 if they are caught using cannabis. The Times reports that Volteface, a drug advocacy group, recommended it be applied to all classes B drugs including speed, but Khan’s office stated it would apply only to cannabis.

Instead of placing the suspects in police custody, officers would rather return them to their own homes. The Telegraph has learned that the mayor intends to carry out his plan in the Southeast Boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich.

Before it could be implemented, the mayor’s police and crime office must sign off.

“Reducing crime is the mayor’s top priority and he will continue to explore and implement the most effective solutions to help to divert young people away from drug use and crime for good,” a spokesperson for the mayor’s office told The Guardian. 

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But, Downing Street has blasted the pilot scheme and Keir Sternmer (Labour leader) have rescinded it. Boris Johnson’s spokesman reiterated that the government has no plans to decriminalize dangerous narcotics, noting that said illegal drugs “destroy lives and fuel violence.”

“Decriminalization would leave organized criminals in control, while risking an increase in drug use, which drives crime and violence, which blights our streets,”According to the spokesperson,

Starmer said he was not in favor of changing drugs policy and would not endorse the Labour mayor’s proposal.

Since Johnson took office in 2016, Khan’s administration failed to address the capital’s drug problem.

The mayor’s office says that illegal drug trade costs society £19 billion (nearly $26bn) per year. In England and Wales, 41,900 individuals were charged last year with drug-related offenses.

City Hall also noted that the funding plan had not been finalized and that the mayor doesn’t have the ability to make cannabis legal. Although possession of cannabis is an offense, police can use it for out-of-court purposes such as cautions.

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