Labour 'Not Yet Convinced' Of The Need To Decriminalise Cannabis, Says Ed Miliband

·2 min read
Ed Miliband has called for cannabis to be legalised (Photo: Sky News)
Ed Miliband has called for cannabis to be legalised (Photo: Sky News)

Ed Miliband has called for cannabis to be legalised (Photo: Sky News)

Labour is “not yet convinced” of the need to decriminalise cannabis, Ed Miliband has said.

The former leader - who has previously backed legalisation of the drug - spoke out after a row broke out over Sadiq Khan’s decision to set up a commission to examine the issue.

The London mayor announced during a visit to America that former cabinet minister Lord Falconer will chair a commission examining the current laws on cannabis.

But that provoked an angry backlash from many shadow cabinet members, including Yvette Cooper and Wes Streeting, who believe it risks making Labour look soft on crime.

“Yvette is furious about it,” a Labour source told HuffPost UK. “People are just rolling their eyes because it definitely is not the official party line.”

Asked if he would like to see cannabis legalised, Miliband said: “That isn’t Labour’s position, no.

“We welcome Sadiq looking at these issues because this debate carries on and should carry on.”

He added: “I’ve said in the past that this is something that needs to be looked at, I think you probably know that.

“But Labour’s shadow cabinet position, which is a position I support as a member of the shadow cabinet, is that we’re not yet convinced of the case for moving on decriminalisation, but obviously we’ll look at what Lord Faconer’s commission has to say.”

During his US trip, the London mayor visited a cannabis dispensary in California — where the drug is legal for medical and recreational use by adults — which he described as “fascinating”.

Khan told the BBC: “We need to have an honest, open conversation about the evidence in relation to the history of cannabis and our laws in the UK and our experience of the health consequences in relation to crime and the community.

“The best way to do that will be with the drugs commission we’ve now set up.

“You can hear from the experts, that’s one thing, but seeing it for yourself ... hearing from those who cultivate and grow this plant has been fascinating.”

Home secretary Priti Patel was one of a number of senior Tories who were quick to criticise Khan for his intervention, saying his time would be “better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London”.

“The mayor has no powers to legalise drugs,” she tweeted. “They ruin communities, tear apart families and destroy lives.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.