Sadiq Khan's plan to decriminalise cannabis could see London murder rates soar

LONDON Mayor Sadiq Khan’s controversial plan to pilot decriminalisation of cannabis could see murder rates, hard drug abuse and the black market soar.

The three-borough scheme would be for under-25s caught with “small” amounts of cannabis to avoid prosecution — and instead attend classes along the lines of a speed awareness course or undergo counselling.

But it has been criticised by PM Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

A similar move in Lambeth, South London, a decade ago attracted drug “tourists” and rising crime, as have trials around the world.

‘Criminal gangs'

Alex Berenson, US author of Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Ill-ness And Violence, has said: “Those in the UK pushing to legalise cannabis should look at the US.

"Study after study backs up that states where marijuana is legalised have suffered a sharp increase in crime.”

Last night Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told us: “These decisions need to be made by Parliament.

"Sadiq Khan wants to make London the safe haven for the drugs trade.”

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Andy Cook, of the Centre for Social Justice, said: “Criminal gangs will see their turnover soar.

"That will attract more crime, not less.”

A spokesman for the mayor said the plan for Lewisham, Bexley and Greenwich was a limited trial, not yet approved by City Hall, and added: “The idea, used by other police across the country, would be to divert young people away from the criminal justice system and provide help and support.”

This is what happened when other nations tried it.


THE South American country led the way on legalisation of cannabis in 2013, in a bid to curb harder substance abuse.

But five years later, 71 per cent of Uruguayans said they thought it was a gateway to harder drugs.

There has been a 52 per cent spike in drug-driving deaths, and cocaine use has increased from three per cent of people to four.

Between 2011 – two years before legalisation – and 2018 the nation’s murder rate more than doubled.

In 2011, it was 5.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. By 2018, that was up to 11.8 – double the world average.

The government lets residents grow six plants at home, create cannabis clubs or buy from a local pharmacy.

But US banks refuse to join forces with local banks because of the drug money.

So now only 17 pharmacies sell cannabis, driving trade underground.

Pharmacy owner Esteban Riviera, in capital Montevideo, said: “We sold a lot of cannabis on the day it was legalised.

"I was also the first pharmacy that stopped. My bank told me to either stop selling cannabis or close my accounts.”


WHEN Canada in 2018 became only the second country in the world to legalise cannabis, after Uruguay, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was widely hailed as a progressive.

But the move has seen the number of citizens using the drug soar – 27 per cent of people surveyed said they had used the drug in 2020, up five per cent on 2019.

Indeed, the cannabis trade in Canada has boomed. In 2020, just over $2.6billion was spent on it – a 117 per cent increase on 2019.

Despite the number of legal cannabis stores increasing from 158 in November 2018 to 1,792 in April 2021, the black market is thriving.

Just 29 per cent of consumers buy all of their product from a legal source, says Statistics Canada.

David Brown, a British Columbia-based cannabis industry analyst, said: “Many consumers complained about high prices and ‘lower quality’.”

There are fears that due to Covid and skewed data, the real effects of the legalisation of cannabis have not been felt yet.


THE American state legalised the drug in 2015 but there is growing anger that it has sent the murder rate spiralling.

Between 2014 and 2019, annual murders jumped 90 per cent, from 41 to 70.

Alaska is the state with the third highest crime rate – despite a fall in the murder rate in 2020, which many put down to the pandemic.

In 2020, it also had a record 146 opioid deaths, which many blame on the gateway drug effect.

Drug prevention worker Elana Habib said: “With an increase in 2019 and an even bigger increase in 2020, it’s a little alarming.”

Overdoses from opioids, which include heroin, have risen by almost 20 per cent since legalisation of cannabis.

"The number of cocaine users over 12 years old also spiked.

Anyone aged 21 or above can buy and carry up to an ounce of cannabis. You can give and receive up to an ounce for free.

A section on Alaska’s official visitor guide website even encourages tourists to visit the state’s “pot shops” and speak to a “budtender” about what skunk they recommend.

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