British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is bringing in a leading advocate of cannabis legalization, Blair Gibbs, as a special adviser on crime and justice policy.
Gibbs will join the administration from the Center for Medicinal Cannabis, a London-based industry group, which announced the move Wednesday on Twitter. Gibbs indicated on social media that he plans to step down from his current post to join the administration.
Gibbs was an adviser on policing to Johnson during the PM’s tenure as London’s mayor, and has also advised Michael Gove, a conservative member of Parliament who has been appointed to serve in Johnson’s cabinet. He joined the Center when it was founded in November, before which he worked for cannabis advocacy group VolteFace.
“The objective now is to get the British government to concede that cannabis – safely produced to high quality standards and prescribed in a regulated, clinical context – is not dangerous, and has established health benefits for some patients,” Gibbs wrote last year in a column on a conservative website.
He’s also been in the forefront of efforts to bring stricter regulation to the market for cannabidiol, or CBD, a legal pot-derived compound that’s associated with health benefits, and not with the euphoric effects of marijuana.
He led the writing of a recent CMC report that found numerous CBD products failed to comply British government standards, and that laws applying to the industry are out of date and often misunderstood.
Gibbs “provided acute insights into the emerging cannabis legalization in Canada,” according to a statement from the Center on Thursday. He’ll begin working in the administration Aug. 12, according to the Center.
In response to an earlier Buzzfeed report citing Gibbs’ social media comments on cannabis legalization, a Downing Street spokesperson said “these are comments made by individuals before they joined government and do not reflect government policy.”