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UK: Cannabis party candidate joins the race for London mayor


London Evening Standard

Monday 08 Feb 2016

An elderly hippy aims to campaign for the legalisation of cannabis by joining the mayoral contest — backed by the multi-millionaire founder of social networking site Bebo.

Lee Harris — who 50 years ago was among the first to seek the prohibition of drugs in Britain, is gathering the required signatures in order to compete against Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith and Labour’s Sadiq Khan.

The 79-year-old grandfather, who owns a “head shop” on Portobello Road called Alchemy, was a self-confessed “moral crusader” before changing his outlook. He is now the CISTA (Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol) party candidate, and hopes to “undo the damage” he helped to cause decades ago.

Mr Harris said: “The time has come to change the drug laws. Hundreds of thousands of people have been penalised, given criminal records, could not travel, lost job opportunities because of these archaic laws.”

Mr Harris, a South African who fled his homeland because of Apartheid, is being backed by philanthropist and drug reform campaigner Paul Birch, who sold Bebo to internet giant AOL for £585 million in 2005.

He founded the party in the hope of getting cannabis use legalised in the UK as it is in some US states.

Mr Harris added: “The law should be changed so that there is no offence for possession or growing two or three plants on your window sill. The whole world is changing and this country needs to be brought into the 21st century.”

Mr Harris, who is said to have known beat poet Allen Ginsberg and Stones guitarist Brian Jones, needs 330 nominations, 10 from each borough including the City of London, and will have to pay £10,000 to stand, plus a further £10,000 if he wishes to appear in an election brochure. The deadline is March 31.

He added: “This needs to happen now. Cannabis is a medicine. Criminalising people for smoking a herb is wrong.




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