During the 2021 London Mayor election campaign, incumbent mayor Sadiq Khan pledged to establish an independent drugs commission to examine the potential health, economic and criminal justice benefits of decriminalising cannabis within the boundaries of London.
He won the election and fulfilled his promise, when he announced in May 2022 that former Justice Secretary Lord Charlie Falconer QC would be the chair of the first London Drugs Commission. The London Drugs Commission is to consider evidence from around the world on the outcomes of various drug policies and assess the effectiveness of drug laws in the capital, with a specific focus on non-class A drugs.
This announcement followed a leaked story in The Telegraph, which claimed the Mayor for London wanted to trial a pilot scheme which will put a stop to the criminalisation of young people caught with cannabis in London. The scheme intends to divert young people away from the criminal justice system when caught with small amounts cannabis. The leak reported that the pilot scheme would start in the London boroughs of Lewisham, Bexley and Greenwich and will be spearheaded by the Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan.
According to data collected from a sample of 1306 people aged 18 and above and published by YouGov last month, 50% of Londoners support decriminalising cannabis within London, compared to just 33% who oppose the idea. 24% of the total sample strongly agreed with decriminalisation, and 20% strongly opposed it. This is less than an Evening Standard poll from 2019 which found 63% of London residents were in favour of the legalisation and regulation of cannabis, compared to 19% who were against it.
The latest report showed that 52% of Londoners aged between 18 and 24 (52%), and those aged between 24 and 29 (56%) were the most likely to support decriminalisation. Older Londoners were less likely to offer their support, with 34% of those aged 65 and over, and 45% of the 50 to 64 year-olds questioned saying they would not support the idea.
Splitting the sample into who the respondent voted for in the 2019 general election shows that 44% of all the respondents that voted Conservative favoured decriminalisation compared to 69% of those who last voted for Labour, and 64% of those who last voted for the Liberal Democrats. Respondents were asked other questions related to cannabis and other drugs, the full results can be in the YouGov report here.