Boris Johnson has finally thrown in the towel as the leader of The Conservative party. Sadly, we’re stuck with the Tories for another couple of years, at least until the next inevitable scandal.
As members of the party jostle to take control of Number 10, we look at some of the contenders and where they sit when it comes to the laws on cannabis in the UK.
The former defence secretary Penny Mordaunt has emerged as an early front runner in the leadership race to replace Boris Johnson. Mordant is an ardent Brexiter, and what better way to take back control than the UK enacting its own laws to legalise cannabis.
In 2010 she signed a motion supporting homoeopathic remedies to be used as an alternative when conventional medicine has failed, which could reflect an open mind to giving adults more choice about consuming cannabis as a medicine.
Dishy Rishy quickly turned to fishy Rishy when it emerged his wife was dodging tax and he’d been hit with a partygate fine. Despite a drop in popularity after these revelations, he is still one of the top candidates for the PM job. As Chancellor, Sunak launched the Future Fund to invest in fast growing UK businesses. The fund took a stake in two cannabis based businesses, CBD brands Grass & Co. and OTO.
The ex-chancellor will also be aware he wrote some pretty big cheques during COVID, and the taxation from a legal cannabis industry would undo some of that spending nicely.
Liz Truss was first out of the blocks to declare her support for Boris following the resignations of Savid Javid and Rishi Sunak, but remained quiet once the letters started flying in from all angles, and is now a potential favourite for the job. Truss became an internet meme when she was recorded being very proud of opening up new Pork Markets, and she may well be in favour of opening up weed markets.
Prior to joining the Conservatives, Truss was a Liberal Democrat. According to a Radio 4 interview with a former colleague, she once wanted to cover an entire campaigning stall with “Free The Weed” posters.
Tom Tugendhat is considered a strong candidate in the eyes of the more moderate One Nation arm of the Conservatives and is another potential leader who would be considered to have more Centrist views. He also has a lot of experience with Foreign Affairs policy, which will have exposed him to countries taking a more positive approach to cannabis.
Tugendhat has gone on record in support of medical cannabis, expressing empathy with patients and their families who are suffering. He could be in favour of wider access through medical channels if he takes charge, but is unlikely to be open to an adult access market.
Ben Wallace is thought to be a favourite amongst some Conservative ranks as he is seen as the complete opposite of Boris Johnson.
Wallace was involved in the vote to reclassify cannabis from class C back to class B in 2008. In 2019 he accused the ex North Wales Police chief Afron Jones of wanting to legalising crack in a cannabis debate on Twitter. It’s unlikely he’d be in favour of legalisation now.
Another hard Brexiter, Braveman doesn’t seem to have any public history on issues relating to cannabis. She threw her hat in the ring on the morning of Johnson’s announcement that he would step down, but at the moment doesn’t seem to be a likely successor. Her policies appear to be lifted straight off the pages of The Daily Mail insisting she’ll stop illegal migrant boats and take on ‘woke rubbish’. Another Tory hell bent on sowing division and identity wars is not a promising candidate for cannabis.
Jeremy Hunt is an outside candidate, but then so was Jeremy Corbyn when he entered the running for Labour leader, and we all know how that turned out.
Hunt has admitted to consuming cannabis as a young man, saying he tried a bhang lassi cannabis milkshake while backpacking in Inida. He also publicly backed the law change on medical cannabis in 2018. He’s fairly centrist in his policies, so it wouldn’t be a far stretch for him to be keen on exploring wider legalisation.
Savid Javid is another outsider, but he has experience when it comes to campaigning to lead the Conservative party. He ran in 2019’s contest, but failed to make the final round.
As Health Minister in 2018, Javid was responsible for changing the law to allow specialist doctors to prescribe medical cannabis as an unlicensed medicine in the UK. He did publicly go on record to rule out legalising the drug for recreational use at the time, but he may be open to widening access through medical routes.
Another early submission for the race, Steve Baker also confirmed on the morning of the resignation that he would stand, albeit only out of respect for the people who often tip him as a potential candidate. As a backbencher, it’s unlikely he’ll land the job. Baker hasn’t yet expressed any public opinion on cannabis, but his voting record follows the pattern of traditional Conservative values, so it’s safe to assume he wouldn’t be in favour of legislation change.