Sadiq Khan says will establish a new commission to examine the use of drugs in the capital if he is re-elected as mayor of London next month.
The Labour incumbent has pledged to start the group of independent experts for “fresh ideas” if he wins a new mandate in the May 6 election.
These experts from fields including criminal justice, community relations and public health, will examine evidence on the harms of drugs, support services and prevention, the effectiveness of current laws as well as tackling the root causes of crime.
It would be expected to report to the Mayor with policy recommendations including for City Hall, the police, health services and central Government.
The Guardian reported that according to a source close to the mayor, Mr Khan would be willing to consider supporting changes to the legal status of cannabis if that is the view of the commission.
This view regarding the class B drug could differ from other members of his party after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he did not support decriminalising the possession of cannabis.
However, Sir Keir said in February there “may be something” in initiatives to issue cautions for low-level crimes and there is “always room for grown-up debate” on the issue.
If re-elected, the work of Mr Khan’s commission would build on research assessing how effective cannabis enforcement is at tackling violence in the capital.
Mr Khan said: “It’s time for fresh ideas about how to reduce the harms drugs and drug-related crimes cause to individuals, families and communities.
“The illegal drugs trade causes huge damage to our society – driving serious and violent crime, damaging people’s health and criminalising too many young people.
“That’s why, if I’m re-elected, I will establish a new London Drugs Commission comprised of independent experts to examine the latest evidence from around the world.
“The commission will make recommendations focusing on the most effective laws to tackle crime, protect Londoners’ health and reduce the huge damage that illegal drugs, including cannabis, cause to our communities and society.”
But Downing Street said that Boris Johnson has “absolutely no intention of legalising cannabis” and insisted that policy on controlled drugs was a matter for central Government.
The Prime Minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton told a Westminster briefing: “Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, will know that the policy on controlled drugs is a matter for the UK Government.
“It’s not a matter for his office.”
At an online manifesto launch on Tuesday, Mr Khan pledged a “renewed focus on the safety of women and girls,” adding: “I’ll continue to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.
“This means putting even more police officers on the streets and providing new opportunities for young Londoners.”
But he made no mention of the commission, instead placing jobs and the environment at the centre of his campaign.
“I’m confident that with the right approach and the right choices, we can put the dark days of the pandemic behind us and deliver the brighter future that all Londoners want and deserve,” he said.
“Right at the heart of my plans is action on jobs, jobs, jobs.
“If we’re to build the foundations for lasting prosperity, we must ensure that no one is left behind. This means turning the tide on rising unemployment.”
He announced plans to launch a “green skills academy” with the aim of doubling the size of the green economy by 2030 and the number of green jobs in the capital to more than 600,000, as well as using the green new deal to support more than 135,000 roles.
“We’re talking about good, high-quality jobs – jobs in the solar industry, jobs in electrifying our bus fleets, jobs in expanding our electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and much, much more,” said Mr Khan.
“So my message to Londoners today is a simple one – a vote for me is a vote for supporting well-paid, green jobs in every single borough of our great city.”
Mr Khan also said he would push for the introduction of rent controls and set a target to build 10,000 new council homes, with key workers to be first in the queue for thousands of new affordable homes.