A candidate for the Mayor of London job has called for cannabis legalisation to be trialled across the city.
Speaking on a panel hosted by the capital’s Evening Standard newspaper, Siobhan Benita said a trial of making marijuana legal would “make London a safer place”.
The Liberal Democrat contender was joined on the debating panel by a former police officer and an ex drug dealer who was jailed for possession.
Speaking at the Liberal Democrats’ party conference in Bournemouth, the delegates all agreed that the UK needed to look closely at decriminalising cannabis.
“This is a safety issue – a public health issue,” Ms Benita told the audience.
“This is about keeping our young children safe in London.
“I’m a mother of two girls, now aged 19 and 20.
“Teenagers will try drugs – a lot of the time they don’t know what they are taking.
“A big part of regulating the market is you can regulate what is being sold.”
‘Off his head’
As discussion moved towards former UK Prime Minister David Cameron confessing in his recently-published memoirs that he “got off his head on weed” during his time at Eton College, the mayoral hopeful said: “We know loads of cabinet members have admitted to smoking cannabis but they are still prepared to say they will lock up others for doing the very same thing?
“I think that is huge hypocrisy.”
The former civil servant and University of Warwick graduate said she would approach the issue by legalising low-strength marijuana while providing education to youngsters on the dangers of drugs.
Another panel member – Joseph Kaz – explained how he resigned as special constable in Camden when his own police force began investigating him after calling for cannabis legalisation during an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time program.
He suggested the police themselves were unsure what their own policy on cannabis was.
“It’s constantly changing,” he complained.
“What form, where these forms went, how it’s processed – it’s confusing.”
Another panellist – ex drug dealer Niko Vorobyov said legalisation made total sense from a policing perspective.
The former prisoner insisted that too many people were “being locked up for something that’s not much worse than alcohol”.
A recent poll – also led by the Evening Standard – found that 63% of Londoners supported the idea of making cannabis legal for recreational use.