Sadiq Kahn in LA as the UK Looks to Re-assess Drug Laws 

Liz Filmer
13 May 2022

The Mayor of London praised the "high standards" of legalised cannabis farms in the US. This came after he announced the formation of a new group to consider the decriminalisation of the drug in Britain.

Lord Charlie Falconer QC will chair the newly assembled London Drugs Commission, whose job will assess the effectiveness of UK drug laws.

This comes as Mr Khan continued his four-day tour of the US. His whistlestop tour included visits to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles and chatting with TV host James Corden and director Richard Curtis on Wednesday evening.

Speaking from the Traditional cannabis dispensary and cultivation centre in downtown LA, Mr Khan told reporters that visiting the facility had been "fascinating".

"You can hear from the experts, that's one thing, but seeing it for yourself … hearing from those who cultivate and grow this plant has been fascinating. (It) is quite clearly heavily regulated. There are high standards. They're readily inspected by the city, by the experts. No corners are being cut. It's essential to see what the parallel world of legalised cannabis looks like as a compare and contrast" -Sadiq Kahn.

Mr Khan also visited Gorrila RX Wellness shop whilst in LA. This store stocks 1,900 cannabis-derived products, including edibles, beverages, and coffee beans.

Store owner Kika Keith commented that the decriminalisation of cannabis in the UK would help London's black community tremendously.

"The people of colour in London should have opportunities to learn about the workforce opportunities, the entrepreneurship … it should really be a diversified industry. It gives us opportunities for ownership and … it's a real opportunity to build communities if we do it in the right way."

Sadiq Kahns' visit is part of a "fact-finding mission" to explore an international evidence-based strategy to reduce drug-related harm in the UK capital. Arrests related to cannabis dropped by 56% after LA decriminalised cannabis in 2016

However, cannabis is still currently indexed as a class B drug in the UK, with a possible five-year prison sentence for possession. 

University College London has been selected to provide top-level evidence-based research and assessment to the Drugs Commission on the criminal justice, economic and health significance of any potential policy change.

Mr Khan believes that Lord Falconer will bring "decades of experience" to the commission. More must be done to tackle the "epidemic" generated by the illegal drug trade.

"It is a real opportunity for a thorough look at the effectiveness of our drug laws and policy on cannabis. We need rigorously to identify the best approach to reduce harm to our communities. A national debate is long overdue. We aim to make recommendations to bring about effective and lasting change." 

-Sadiq Kahn

Liz Filmer