politics

I want cannabis legalised, says leading Tory joining race to be next London Mayor



A leading London Tory entered the mayoral race today with a pledge to get cannabis legalised.

London Assembly member Andrew Boff blamed prohibition of the drug for soaring knife crime and mental illness among young people exposed to powerful strains of illicit weed.

He told the Standard: “I will use the mayor’s ‘bully’ pulpit to bring regulation to an illicit drugs trade that is behind half of the murders in London. We have had 75 murders this year and under Sadiq Khan it has gone out of control.”

Mr Boff, 60, has spent 10 years on the assembly but has a track record in local government going back 40 years.

Openly gay, he describes himself as a libertarian whose campaigns such as voting reform go beyond traditional Conservative politics.

He admitted that even if elected he would have no power to change the law on cannabis, but said there was a lot the mayor could do to persuade government. He would tell police to refocus stop-and-search on knives over drugs.

“We are handing the distribution of cannabis to criminals and … putting young people at risk, both from knife crime as gangs fight for market share and from being exposed to black market drugs that are particularly dangerous to health,” he said. 

Mr Boff stepped into the fray as London MEP Syed Kamall said he was bowing out from the 2020 mayoral race to focus on his role in Brexit negotiations, but hopes to stand in 2024. “I still have a lot to offer,” he added. 

London Tories have set a deadline of Friday for nominations to become the party’s candidate to take on Labour’s Sadiq Khan. But big beasts are proving slow to declare and bookmakers’ odds suggest a second term for Mr Khan, the 2/5 favourite at Betfair. 

Former education secretary Justine Greening and ex-ministers Greg Hands and Ed Vaizey ruled themselves out. 

Tory deputy chairman James Cleverly is being pressed to stand. A former assembly member, the Braintree MP is said to be “50-50” on whether to run. 

Property tycoon Richard Tice is already campaigning, and two Boris Johnson advisers, Shaun Bailey and Munira Mirza, are tipped to stand. 

Duwayne Brooks, friend of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, has also signalled interest in the job. 

A shortlist is due by the end of July.



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