Meet Lee Eli Harris - The Cannabis Activist Running for Mayor of London
Eli Lee Harris is a slender man of 79, bespectacled and dressed to match his surroundings, Portobello road in the heart of London.
He is running as a candidate for the London Mayoral Election for the Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol party (CISTA). He’s the oldest of the candidates. Born in South Africa, he fought racism and demonstrated against the apartheid regime.
For the last 45 years he has owned and ran Alchemy on Portobellow Road. It’s the oldest emporium of equipment for cannabis and tobacco consumption in London.
Mr Harris is not a lifelong cannabis user though. He didn’t smoke cannabis until the age of 27 and before that he only drank alcohol seldomly, to celebrate the Jewish sabbath on friday nights.
His parents only spoke Yiddish, a Jewish language similar to German and grew up in an orphanage in Johannesburg after his father died when he was nine years old.
Speaking on cannabis:
"The first time I tried it was when I was 27 - and by then I was a humanist, an atheist. I was in the West End with all the Mods. I had my first puff and got high.”
He became a campaigner when he saw police drug raids. They reminded him of the raids under apartheid.
"In South Africa, I saw all these black people being taken into the police station. And, in Brixton, I saw the same thing happening.”
His activism has led to three charges for drug offences - but only one conviction - and a raid on his shop by plain-clothes policemen.
Cista is campaigning for a Royal Commission review into the UK’s cannabis laws.
If you would like to vote for Eli Lee Harris, then make sure you’re registered to vote for the London mayoral election here:
Register to vote here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote