A long-time cannabis advocate in the United Kingdom is joining the administration of new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, according to a Buzzfeed report. Blair Gibbs is leaving his job as policy lead at the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis to join Johnson, who he previously served as a policing aide when Johnson was mayor of London.
Gibbs has been publicly supporting cannabis legalization in the U.K. since 2012 while working at the conservative think tank Policy Exchange. In an interview with The Times last October he said that “prohibition is no longer seen as the smart and responsible policy.” Gibbs has also praised Canada for legalizing cannabis, calling the move “bold policy and good government” in a 2017 Volteface article.
“When the UK gets round to legislating to regulate a legal market for recreational cannabis it will need to learn from other models but also devise one that fits its own culture and institutions best.” – Gibbs, via Twitter, July 9, 2019
Johnson’s new Political Secretary Danny Kruger has also voiced support for legalization.
“A brave step would be to commission a report looking at the impact on young people’s wellbeing of drugs – including the effect of illegality, and the potential for a regulated market,” he wrote in a 2017 article for Spectator magazine.
Johnson himself has said he had smoked “quite a few spliffs” as a teenager but has since become “very illiberal about it.”
“It was jolly nice. But apparently it is very different these days, much stronger. … I don’t want my kids to take drugs,” he said, according to the report.
Responding to the addition of pro-cannabis reform individuals to the higher levels of the administration, a government spokesperson told Buzzfeed that their comments were made before they joined the administration “and do not reflect government policy.”
A recent survey by Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group found that 48 percent of adults in England supported legalization — a five-point increase from a YouGov survey last year – and 77 percent supported legalizing medical cannabis.
Last week, a delegation from Parliament went to Canada on a fact-finding mission about legalization leading Labour MP David Lammy to predict the nation would legalize cannabis within five to 10 years.
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