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Labour MPs are furious with Sadiq Khan, but his drugs policy could work



Labour MPs are furious with Sadiq Khan, but his drugs policy could work


Keir Starmer himself hasn’t directly commented on Khan’s trip to a Californian cannabis factory, but he made his views clear earlier this year

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan walks through cannabis plants which are being legally cultivated at 'Traditional' a licensed factory in Los Angeles where the mayor was seeing for himself how legalised cannabis production operates in California on day 3 of a planned 5 day visit to the US. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2022. PA Photo. The mayor of London has visited New York and Silicon Valley, California, before making his way to Los Angeles and hopes to also use the trip to attract investment to the capital. See PA story POLITICS Khan. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire



When photos emerged of Sadiq Khan on a legalised cannabis farm in California this week, along with the announcement of a new London Drugs Commission to review UK law, his party’s official response was as terse as it was blunt.

“Labour does not support changing the law on drugs,” a spokesperson said. “Drugs policy is not devolved to mayors and under Labour would continue to be set by national Government.”

But the unofficial response was much more withering as frontbenchers let rip in a Labour MPs’ private WhatsApp group.



“This is going to go down like a bucket of cold sick in my bit of the suburbs just now… Crime up, police numbers still way below where people think they should be, so Labour is going to have a chat about drugs… Inspired,” said Gareth Thomas, the Shadow International Trade minister.

Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed messaged, “Open goal for Priti…”, as he forwarded a tweet by Priti Patel attacking Khan that declared the Mayor’s time would “be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London”.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting added: “Does this make it more or less likely that we win a general election?” The sarcasm didn’t need much de-coding, especially as a quizzical emoji accompanied his message.

Keir Starmer himself hasn’t directly commented on Khan’s trip, but he made his views clear earlier this year. At the time, it emerged that the London Mayor was looking at pilot projects in three boroughs in the capital to stop arresting 18-24 year-olds caught in possession of small amounts of cannabis.


“I’ve said a number of times and I will say again: I’m not in favour of us changing the law or decriminalisation. I’m very clear about that,” the Labour leader said. However, his critics say that clarity is the very last thing that Starmer has provided on this topic.

During a televised leadership debate in 2020, he was asked directly if he would decriminalise cannabis. “I wouldn’t immediately,” he replied. That word “immediately”, naturally, set the hare running that he may at some point go down that road.


Just as importantly, Starmer added: “I have supported schemes where cannabis possession, you’re not arrested, you’re not prosecuted for it. And I believe in that.” That sounded exactly like the Khan pilot, which is itself based on similar “Drugs Diversion Pilot” (DDP) projects operated by Thames Valley Police and other forces.

The Mayor’s new Commission, which is being chaired by former Justice Secretary Lord Falconer and will work with University College London, aims to gather evidence to inform a serious debate about the UK’s drug laws. It delivers on a manifesto pledge he made last year, allowing him to claim he has an electoral mandate for it.


I’m told Khan was particularly struck by conversations he had with a Black owner of a legalised cannabis shop in Los Angeles, who said the Californian approach would “tremendously help” London’s minority ethnic communities and boost their “entrepreneurship”. The tax dollars raised from the US policy are another useful by-product not unnoticed by the Mayor.

On many measures, the “war on drugs” has failed as spectacularly in the UK as it has in the US. Since the Misuse of Drugs Act was passed more than 50 years ago, the number of people who have taken illegal drugs has increased to an estimated three million and the number of drug-related deaths is the highest since records began.

Courts, already suffering a backlog because of the Covid pandemic, are clogged with drugs cases. There is little evidence that draconian sentences pose any serious deterrent effect. An estimated one third of the prison population is linked to drug-related crime, either through thefts to feed a habit or specific drug offences.


The calls for reform are cross-party too. Among the advocates is former Tory leader William Hague, who saw his once “zero tolerance” approach to drugs fall apart when a third of his Shadow Cabinet admitted taking drugs. Hague now backs the model operated by Portugal since 2001, which decriminalised minor drug offences without increasing overall drug use.

Shortly before he became an MP, a certain Boris Johnson complained on camera that the Labour Government criminalised recreational cannabis users. “I have some perfectly respectable neighbours – good bourgeois types – who, without giving the game away or naming them, whenever they are sitting in of an evening and have got nothing else to do, they roll up a spliff and quietly smoke it together… and yet they are in breach of the law for what they are doing,” he said.



The PM has long since reneged on such views, and Starmer too says the current law is “roughly right”. In fact, some close to the Labour leader say that he’s more than happy to be asked about the drugs issue as it allows him to remind the public of the drugs gangsters he helped lock up as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

I’m told that Starmer’s stance is influenced particularly by the mental health impacts of cannabis use and is very wary of anything that would worsen the problem. He went out of his way last year to insert into his party conference speech a new pledge to guarantee mental health treatment within a month for all who need it.

Referring to Starmer’s background as a working-class child growing up in Oxted in Surrey, there is also what one ally calls “his small ‘c’ conservatism, his small-town rootedness that knows the public want to tackle the anti-social behaviour that is linked to drugs”. With Labour keen to reassert itself as the party of “law and order”, radical reform seems unlikely.

More likely, given Starmer’s belief in “preventive public services”, is a massive injection of public money into better treatment for addicts. Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs policy found such health treatment had been cut by 14 per cent since 2014.

Although some opinion polls show a majority back the legalisation of cannabis, others suggest there’s a more narrow split. Crucially, the over-65s and over-50s are most resistant to the idea, whereas 60 per cent of 25-49 year-olds support it. Whether Britain can afford to wait for public opinion to shift decisively is a question that neither Starmer nor Johnson want to worry about.


The most likely outcome is that Khan’s review of drugs laws will end up being placed quietly in a Whitehall filing cabinet marked “too hot to handle”, with outright legalisation years away.

But what may emerge, if the main parties can resist accusing each other of going “soft” on drug crime, is a very British compromise. The current pilot projects don’t require a change in the law, they are simply a change in the practice of the law – where police chiefs decide not to arrest or prosecute cannabis users.

A widespread use of such projects, effectively decriminalisation by the back door, would still some political bravery to adopt nationally. When Sadiq Khan runs for Labour leader, as he surely will one day, he’ll have the chance to test whether his party – and the public – really are on board.







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Labour MPs are furious with Sadiq Khan

Yet the Labour party supporters dont see it that way? Party politics is all in the name PARTY Politics in other words it's all how they see it not the Public. (that is why they will not let you vote on anything)

No wonder the UK has no real English parties that represent the UK folks as two-thirds of the parliament is made up of London MPs even Davis Davison and others have said London parliament is too London central.

Most people in Scotland dont bother voting for these two parties also the Irish have gone the same way I should imagine when the next election comes the Welsh will do the same and then you have the North and Midlands They dont vote for these two parties anymore is this not telling you all something about these two parties? Most of these nations and the north and midlands and deep south dont recognise these two parties as British never mind even English.

Look at the leader he is American the cabinet is not British it's more like the United Nations than English.

The English need to wake up and get a third ENGLISH party instead of having SNP as the third party.

But Next election the Engish will put one of these two Mongrual parties in lol yet the signs are on the wall.  


No point in saying there is no one else to vote for these are loads to vote on if you would like a link just ask I have all 142 parties and they are all English and they believe in the UK and the English maybe its time to try something new and refreshing


Bongne :yinyang:


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1 hour ago, bongme said:

Labour MPs are furious with Sadiq Khan, but his new unnecessary tax collecting policy on the working class could work..


fyi - KNOWBODY GIVES A SHITE ABOUT YOU OR YOUR DRUG LAWS! lol (peas and chips to dance the night away)


living in the past man, surly they don’t still believe anybody gives a shit about drug laws after the last 30 years lol and especially with the impending economic/ financial collapse?


the last thing i’ve ever worried about is a conspired fake drugs policy which favours politicians and their school chums lol especially now.. at the minute, i’m more worried about getting tools, veg seeds and equipment to see us through this looming (planned) great depression..



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The tories will allow it if they can make a profit and the country is broke same as they always have on other issues

The lure of money clouds their thinking

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Things couldn’t be worse with current policy on drugs, therefore the only sensible option would be a complete reversal of prohibition. 

But MP’s simply don’t care. 

I say fuck ‘em, but that’s with some risks to physical and mental health 

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