The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced that former Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Lord Charlie Falconer QC will be the chair of the first-ever London Drugs Commission.
Sadiq announced that Lord Falconer will head-up the Commission into the effectiveness of our drugs laws on cannabis, while he was in Los Angeles, in the US, to see first-hand the impact on the city since it legalised cannabis in 2016.
The Mayor visited a cannabis dispensary and cultivation facility, and met with key figures from The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), L.A.’s city government, public health and licensed retailers and growers to see what lessons could be learned in the UK in responding to the challenges of drugs.
Cannabis arrests in California dropped by 56 per cent after it became legal to use, possess and grow it in 2016. A total of 6,065 cannabis arrests took place in 2017, compared to 13,810 arrests in 2016. Felony arrests for cannabis fell by 74 per cent to 2,086 in 2017 from 7,949 in 2016.
Sadiq is currently on a four-day trip to America to support London’s economic recovery from the pandemic and promote the capital to international visitors. The fact-finding mission in L.A is part of an international evidence-based approach to reducing drug related harm in the capital.
Sadiq is establishing a London Drugs Commission of independent experts and leading figures from the fields of criminal justice, public health, politics, community relations and academia to examine the effectiveness of our drugs laws, with a particular focus on cannabis. The Commission will not consider Class A drugs.
Lord Charlie Falconer QC has been chosen to lead the Commission as it gathers evidence from around the world on the approach taken to cannabis, the best methods of prevention, the most effective criminal justice responses, and the public health benefits of different approaches.
University College London (UCL) has been appointed to provide world-class evidence-based research and assessment to the Commission on the criminal justice, health and economic implications for any potential change in policy.
Following its work, the Commission will make a series of policy recommendations for City Hall, the Government, the police, the criminal justice system and public health services.
In 2020, England and Wales reported 4,561 deaths related to drug poisoning in 2020 – the highest number since records began.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am delighted to announce that Lord Charlie Falconer QC will be the chair of the first-ever London Drugs Commission. As a widely respected QC and former Justice Secretary, Lord Falconer brings decades of experience.
“The illegal drugs trade causes huge damage to our society and we need to do more to tackle this epidemic and further the debate around our drugs laws. That’s why I am here today in L.A. to see first-hand the approach they have taken to cannabis.
“We must learn from others when considering our approach, and by examining the latest evidence from around the world and the world-class research from UCL, Lord Falconer and the Commission will make recommendations to improve our approach to cannabis to help tackle drug related crime, protect Londoners’ health and reduce the huge damage that illegal drugs cause to our communities.”
Lord Charlie Falconer QC said: “I’m honoured to have been appointed chair of the London Drugs Commission. It is a real opportunity for there to be a thorough look at the effectiveness of our drugs laws and policy on cannabis. We need rigorously to identify what is 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.”
Ben Bradford, Institute for Global City Policing at University College London, said: “This opportunity to work in partnership with the London Drugs Commission to review and develop evidence regarding the implications of drug laws both here and around the world is hugely welcome. I look forward to working with Lord Falconer and the Commission to inform debate across the range of issues it will consider, ensuring that high quality evidence lies at the heart of its conclusions and recommendations.”