By Roland Sebestyén
In her manifesto, The Green Party candidate for the Mayor of London, Sian Berry, has announced that she would ‘deprioritise’ cannabis policing. The policy would come into immediate effect should she become the next London Mayor after the 2021 local elections.
London Post reports that the Green Party co-leader Sian Berry wants to end police stop and search practises based solely on smelling cannabis. This would be part of wider reform to divert drug users from the criminal justice system to healthcare support.
“No credible candidate for Mayor could look at the data and claim that prohibition and an enforcement-based war on drug use have worked.”
Sian Berry said: “All the evidence points to a public health approach being the safest, most compassionate and most effective way of reducing the harm caused by drug use, allowing police officers to focus on serious crimes rather than racially profiling our population, harassing London’s young people and locking up those who need medical help.
“As Mayor, I will save police officer time for things that really improve public safety by deprioritising the policing of cannabis, with an immediate end to stop and search based only on the smell of this drug.”
Meanwhile, Ms Berry told The Independent that black people are currently more likely to be suspected of committing minor drug offences. She said it was “just utterly disproportionate.”
Experts have claimed that black people are up to nine times more likely to be targeted in stop and search operations than white people. In 2020, it was revealed that black people accounted for one in five of those found guilty for cannabis possession, despite only representing around 3% of the population.
In their 2019 general election manifesto, the Green Party pledged to allow cannabis cultivation for the NHS “to have its own production and supply service for Cannabis-based medicines.” Furthermore, the party planned to decriminalise cannabis and allow for a regulated market in the UK with an aim to move cannabis use to a public health issue as opposed to a criminal issue.
“After fifty failing years of the war on drugs, it’s time for a fresh start.”
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures, drug-related deaths has reached an all-time high in London: out of the 4,393 drugs-related deaths in England and Wales, 493 have died in the capital city.
Ms Berry reportedly trails behind the incumbent London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey. The Mayoral election is due to take place in May 2021.