The veteran activist and cannabis campaigner Lee Harris will appear on the ballot for the London mayoral election on 5th May, it has been confirmed today, having secured the requisite nominations from each of London’s 33 boroughs.
Harris, who is 79, is representing CISTA – the Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol party – and is calling for cannabis to be legalised, regulated, and taxed. Citing other countries that have started to experiment with cannabis regulation, Harris has stated that such a policy would not only raise funds for public services, but would also help to tackle gang violence and organised crime.
Harris also hopes his nomination will advance discussion of cannabis legislation in the UK, and London in particular, which he feels is being left behind by more progressive countries that have adopted evidence-based drug policies. This will come as welcome news to the 800,000 people in London who consume cannabis regularly for recreational purposes, and the 145,000 who use it for medicinal purposes.
The candidates representing the major political parties have been conspicuously silent on the issue of drug policy during the mayoral campaign up to this point, despite Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith being an outspoken supporter of drug law reform in the past, and the official policies of both the Liberal Democrat and Green parties being in favour of reform. With the inclusion of Harris on the ballot, the other candidates will find it more difficult to avoid addressing the issue, and their respective stances my prove informative for the 30 percent of Londoners who come into contact with cannabis in their daily lives.
Harris brings decades of experience to his campaign, having first become involved in activism during the anti-Apartheid movement in his home country of South Africa in the 1950s before moving to London and becoming a well-known figure in the UK hippie scene in the 1960s. He founded and still runs Alchemy on Portobello Road, which boasts the title of London’s oldest head shop.
Watch Lee Harris’s Campaign video here:
Words by Henry Fisher