by Jake Lenton
As most cannabis users will know April 20th is the highlight of the cannabis calendar. On that day, we all come together to enjoy a smoke and press for change in drug laws that are outdated and misguided.
In 2014, a number of events were staged across the UK and worldwide. The biggest in the UK taking place in a sodden Hyde Park, where estimates say between 5,000 and 8,000 attended in the pouring rain, apart from the Daily Mail who reported it as a ‘few dozen‘. Even the Mirror reported “hundreds”. Well, I was there and I can safely say a few hundred dozen protested peacefully. There were enlightening speeches from members of NORML UK and UK cannabis social clubs, and a visit from Green Party MEP candidate, Caroline Allen. Despite the police taking a much more pro–active approach to begin with this year, there were only a couple of arrests and the event passed peacefully with many people making new friends.
Another event took place in Platt Fields Park, Manchester, with the Manchester Evening news reporting a turnout of around 500 people openly smoking cannabis to which the police turned a blind eye. They quote Paddy Gomulski, 19, as “wanting to show people like him aren’t rioters or looters”, he goes on to make the point that A&E is regularly filled with drunks but not one cannabis user. They say Ari Nawaz, chief inspector of South Manchester, visited the organisers and his main concern was that no application had been made to the council to host the event. The implication was a clear invitation to do so next year, although he did add “criminal behaviour” would be dealt with “proportionately”.
In Glasgow a rally was held on Glasgow Green. The Daily Record reported that despite hundreds turning up, 5 arrests were made by about half a dozen police officers. In the short article, they mention Glasgow Cannabis Social Club setting up stalls and handing out leaflets calling for decriminalisation. 420 attendees even made the Scottish Sun!
STV also posted a short article, saying 150 people attended and a Police Scotland spokeswoman confirming five men had been reported for cannabis possession but there was no disorder or arrests.
Other smaller events were due to be held across the UK, including War Memorial park in Coventry and also in Northern Ireland but little has appeared in the media about these as yet.
It’s worth taking the numbers in the press with a pinch of salt, and in a future article I’ll be speaking to people who actually went to the other events to find out more about the day.
Over the pond, in Colorado, the first 420 since cannabis was made legal there took place with a rally in Civic Center Park. The Huffington Post reported tens of thousands, and the general consensus seems to be around 80,000 with CNN reporting on how 420 has become mainstream. Similar events took place all around the States, including Washington, where like Colorado, cannabis has been legalised.
Across the world people came together to celebrate 420, with events in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto in Canada, throughout Amsterdam and the Netherlands, and probably many more places that have gone unnoticed. All the events appear to have passed off largely peacefully and hopefully many more events will follow next year.
The end result is our demonstrations are gathering momentum and getting bigger every year, calling for an end to prohibition and showing the cannabis community in a positive light. We are progressively winning over our neighbours, members of the public, politicans and now nations. Let’s keep up the good work.