London cannabis decriminalisation will be ‘limited trial’

A trial scheme to decriminalise cannabis in London will involve just three of the capital’s 32 boroughs and has yet to be approved by City Hall, according to the office of the Mayor of London. The office was responding to media reports on the plan, including an article in the Telegraph stating that ‘Sadiq Khan is planning to end the prosecution of young people caught with cannabis in a move to decriminalise drugs in London’.

young people smoke cannabis
The trial will aim to keep young people caught with cannabis, ketamine or speed away from police custody

Police in the boroughs of Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham would be ‘told not to arrest young people caught with cannabis, ketamine or speed’, the article states. ‘Offenders will instead be taken back to their family homes and kept away from police custody.’ However, the trial will only apply to 18 to 24-year-olds found in possession of a ‘small amount’ of cannabis and will not apply to any other substances, the mayor’s office states, with the results ‘robustly evaluated’ before any further roll-out is considered.

Funding for the scheme has yet to be approved by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), the mayor’s office continues, and ‘does not mean that the mayor is moving to decriminalise cannabis – something he does not have the power to do.’ Looking at ways to divert young people away from the criminal justice system is ‘not out of step with the government’s drug strategy’, it adds, with the pilot based on the Thames Valley Model, which won an award in 2021.

‘The idea of the scheme, which is already used by other police forces across the country, would be to divert young people who are found with a small amount of cannabis away from the criminal justice system and instead provide help and support,’ the mayor’s office spokesperson stated. ‘This has been shown to reduce reoffending. 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.’

Public health minister Maggie Throup, with a new anti-smoking campaign

Meanwhile, a new promotional film from the government’s ‘Better health smoke free’ campaign warns that young people whose parents or caregivers smoke cigarettes are four times more likely to start smoking themselves. ‘We know that many people make a quit attempt in January, and while there are so many good reasons to stop smoking for yourself, we hope that this new campaign – by highlighting the inter-generational smoking link with parents influencing their children – will be the added motivation many need to ditch the cigarettes for good this year,’ said public health minister Maggie Throup.

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