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UK: 'London would be happier if cannabis was legal', Mayoral hopeful says (Lee Harris)

Hatty Collier

Evening Standard

Sunday 01 May 2016

London would be “a happier place” if people were allowed to take drugs with impunity, a mayoral candidate claimed today.

Self-confessed hippy Lee Harris, 79, joined the race for City Hall to campaign for the legalisation of the drug as party CISTA’s (Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol) candidate.

The grandfather-of-three, who is just three months shy of his 80th birthday, owns a “head shop” on Portobello Road called Alchemy, and attended the first rally to legalise cannabis in Hyde Park almost 50 years ago.

And ahead of next week’s mayoral election, Mr Harris told the Standard: “London would be a happier place if cannabis was legalised. If people smoke cannabis, they will drink less.

“Drinking is a terrible problem in this country and there is so much violence attached to it.

“We want to legalise, regulate and tax cannabis so that people don’t have to go to the black market. But like tobacco and alcohol, there should be an age limit.

“If marijuana was legalised, the youth wouldn’t be able to get hold of it because it would be sold on licensed premises.

“There is a whole new world for us to deal with out there – social media, technology. Cannabis can chill us out and heal us.”

Mr Harris, a South African who fled his homeland because of Apartheid, believes that legalising cannabis could raise up to £2 billion in tax, which could be spent on hospitals and youth projects.

He said: “Why let all that money go into the black market? Making it legal would eliminate the black market. We want a safer London.

“There are too many drug dealers driving around in flash cars.”

Mr Harris is also campaigning for greater transparency in property ownership, the reorganisation of the capital’s transport system and to encourage Londoners to generate electricity in their own homes using renewable energy sources.
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Mr Harris, who lost his wife eight years ago to lung cancer, also believes that psychedelic drugs such as LSD and MDMA should be legalised and regulated.

Describing how he was feeling ahead of Thursday’s election, he said: “Campaigning just gets you utterly high.”

Labour’s Sadiq Khan and Conservative Zac Goldsmith are the favourites to replace Boris Johnson when London goes to the polls on Thursday




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