Boris is going, what does this mean for cannabis legalisation in the UK?

July 07, 2022

With the announcement that Liz Truss is the new Prime Minister of the UK, we have updated our article on cannabis legalisation with more information on her stance. Read it here: Is the UK any closer to legalising cannabis?

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’ve been taking a look at some of the contenders and where they sit when it comes to the laws on cannabis in the UK.

Rishi Sunak

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, and has made it through to the final 2. 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. Politically, he’s considered fairly liberal in Conservative terms, but to date, he’s given little in the way of public opinion on cannabis. Hopefully, if Sunak becomes PM he’ll at least be open to discussing the financial potential of legalisation.

Liz Truss

Liz Truss was first out of the blocks to declare her support for Boris following the resignations of Savid Javid and Rishi Sunak, she remained quiet once the letters started flying in from all angles, but thanks to support from many of her colleagues she is now through to the final vote to become the next Prime Minister. Truss became an internet meme when she was recorded being very proud of opening up new Pork Markets, but would she 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.

Even as a Conservative, Truss is already well versed in cannabis politics. She served as the MP for South West Norfolk, and during this time she liased with constituents and a large medical cannabis farm, as some residents were unhappy about the pungent smell wafting over the village. In her more recent role as Foreign Secretary, she’s been involved in the proposed cannabis legalisation policy on the British territory of Bermuda.

Of all the candidates, Truss seems the most likely to lean toward positive changes in cannabis law in the UK, but as campaigning by prospective candidates for the MP job, there has been a tendency to pay lip service to the right of the party, which may hold immediate change back.

Penny Mordaunt

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.

Tom Tugendhat

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

Ben Wallace was thought to be a favourite amongst some Conservative ranks as he is seen as the complete opposite of Boris Johnson, but is now out of the running.

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.

Suella Braveman

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

Jeremy Hunt was an outside candidate, but failed to make it through.

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

Savid Javid was another outsider, with experience when it comes to campaigning to lead the Conservative party. He ran in 2019’s contest, but failed to make the final round, and was out of the race early on.

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.

Steve Baker

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 was always unlikely he would become PM. 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.

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