Prime Minister-designate Boris Johnson has dabbled with illicit drugs in the past, but reforming the United Kingdom's antiquated cannabis laws probably won't be part of his future.
On Monday it was officially announced that MP Boris Johnson had been elected as Leader of the Conservative Party, which means he will succeed outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May as the head of government. Johnson is expected to take a different approach to politics than his predecessor, but anyone hoping that he will push for national cannabis reform probably shouldn't hold their breath.
Johnson is one of many politicians who dabbled with illicit drugs in his youth only to become a hardened prohibitionist later in life. Back in 2007, Johnson candidly admitted in a GQ interview that he routinely consumed cannabis while in high school and even tried cocaine once as a college student. While he confessed that his experiences of smoking weed were "jolly nice," he also said that he's "become very illiberal about [cannabis]" in the years since.
Since then, Johnson's opposition to drug reform seems to have stiffened. In a discussion with The Sun in late June, Johnson called stats showed falling rates of cannabis consumption "encouraging" and called for "a much more ruthless campaign to round up the ringleaders" of drug smuggling operations.
"I think drugs are bad, I really do," Johnson said at the time. "I hesitate before moving to some glib solution of legalization or deregulation."
So there's little reason to hope that Johnson will pursue cannabis reform during his time at 10 Downing Street. But that could change if MP Crispin Blunt whispers the right things in the new PM's ear. Blunt chairs a cannabis lobbying firm and is "the first Conservative to be the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform." He's also on good terms with Jonson after publicly endorsing the new PM's bid to succeed Theresa May. And Blunt is not shy about using his connections to advance his political positions. In June, Blunt told The Telegraph that he had "not wasted any time" before discussing his cannabis stance with Johnson, and he predicted that the UK would legalize cannabis within the next five years.
Of course, Johnson's key concerns for the immediate future are likely to center around finalizing the details of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. This means the UK's new political leader probably isn't likely to put much focus on drug policy until that particular mess is put to bed.
However, if Johnson does manage to get the Brexit issue resolved, it is possible that Blunt could persuade the new PM to turns his attention to cannabis policy reform.