By Jake Lenton and Jo Martin-Moss
On May 3rd 2014, or thereabouts, marches were held in hundreds of cities worldwide, with millions calling for an end to the criminalisation of Cannabis users.
In the UK, the focus fell on Cardiff where hundreds of like minded people gathered in the city centre behind City Hall, before marching through the streets brandishing signs and colourful banners calling for legalisation and regulation of the cannabis market. The march came to an end in Hamadryad park, where NORML UK and United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs held an information stall.
There was no sign of the kind of expensive policing operation deployed in Hyde Park for 420, and people enjoyed a smoke and a BBQ. Hopefully some new friends and connections were made.
Speeches took place during the afternoon, with Greg De Hoedt, of UKCSC following up his passionate speeches at 420 with more facts for the gathered crowd and an offering an alternative to the criminal cannabis market in the form of Cannabis Social Clubs. A model similar to that employed successfully in Spain.
Speaking after the event Greg said “The people of Cardiff and Wales came out in good numbers again this year and showed they support a change to the Government’s current drug policy. It was good to hear so many people asking how they can get involved with Welsh Cannabis Social Clubs, and there is a huge demand for a Social club in Cardiff. There are more than enough consumers and gardeners that know what they’re doing and plenty of empty retail and industrial spaces that could be utilised by the Cannabis Industry, as has happened in cities such as Denver, Colorado where they have successfully legalised cannabis and are enjoying a massive increase in revenue and reduced crime.
If people want to make that a reality in Wales they should get involved with their local social club today or contact UKCSC about starting their own. That also goes for anyone, anywhere in the UK. It’s time to start building an industry here in the UK”
Clark French, Director of NORML UK’s medical campaign, suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, and uses Cannabis to effectively treat the condition. He gave a speech highlighting that everyone who uses Cannabis is a medical patient. Stress relief alone is one of many medicinal benefits, and more and more uses are frequently discovered. Speaking of the hypocrisy of prohibition he made the point that even Paracetamol is more dangerous than Cannabis, yet is freely available in shops.
Following the event Clark said of the day “I had a fantastic day safely medicating with fellow medical Cannabis patients. We proved we pose no threat to society by medicating openly and publicly. Prohibition of Cannabis is a complete waste of taxpayers money, and denies patients the chance to source the best quality medicine. Those that take matters into their own hands to ensure they get the quality they need are criminalised. Ultimately the law is unjust, based on moral judgements rather than scientific fact”
Music was provided by Mean Business Records, with DJ Alkemy, Beatbox Fozzy, Squid Ninjaz, Turna Phrase and Melo amongst those performing for the crowd.
Richard Smith of Cardiff Cannabis Social Club, was one of the organisers of the event and gave a speech on the day outlining the work of The Cardiff Cannabis Social Club and the need for a regulated Cannabis market.
After the success of the day he praised the Council, Police and public saying “The Cardiff Global Cannabis March was a fantastic day. The Police and Council were very accommodating and the public showed their support throughout the march. The turnout this year was brilliant, with hundreds of cannabis users coming together. Everything seemed to be on our side, and the weather was perfect. The Cardiff Cannabis club will now look to the future, and we look forward to holding public meetings and events on a regular basis”.
Pippa Bartolotti, the leader of Wales Green Party spoke of the Green parties approach to drug laws. They want to remove cannabis from the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act and adopt a model similar to that of the Netherlands, where Cannabis can be purchased in small amounts in ‘coffeeshops’.
The Green Party have spoken at both our recent events, while in relative terms, the mainstream parties continue to shy away from the important issue of reforming drug laws. It’s well worth having a look at their policies for yourselves and considering voting or getting involved with the Green Party in your area.
As the day came to a close, many people were inspired to be more outspoken in their pursuit of change to drug laws that cause much more harm than good. This is something we can all get involved in. Whether contacting your local MP to discuss the harm prohibition creates and encouraging them to lobby Parliament on your behalf, Attending and supporting events such as this one, or simply attempting to change peoples perceptions of Cannabis when you see or hear incorrect information. Present the facts, such as the annual death toll for alcohol is 8,000+ while for Cannabis it’s 0.
Some peoples opinions will never change, having faced a barrage of mis-information and outright lies through mass media for many years, but some will be surprised to learn the of the true facts and many medical uses of cannabis and may even become a supporter of reform. Everyone counts and everyone can do their bit, however small it may seem.
As the sun set over Cardiff, Jo Martin-Moss, Deputy Director of NORML UK and medicinal cannabis patient who successfully treats CRPS, told of meeting the family of a teenager treating Cancer with Cannabis and called on everyone to support law reform.
“Today has been truly inspirational, meeting the family of a teenage boy who is fighting cancer with cannabis cannot have failed to touch the hearts of everyone who met them. We have to remind ourselves every day, we are fighting to be able to give families like these a legal choice to use Cannabis as treatment for Cancer, Epilepsy and many other illnesses which respond well to Cannabinoid therapy. One day it could be a child you know and love, and supporting cannabis law reform does not mean you must be a Cannabis consumer. Your support means that we can push for law reform which will make it much easier for research to be carried out into cannabis medicine, and remove the current monopoly that exists in the UK.”
She also reflected on the success of the event, and praised the organisers. “I would like to add a big well done to Richard Smith, Jamie Morgan and the rest of the crew from Cardiff Cannabis Social Club for such a well organised event, which NORML UK were proud to be a part of. Not a scrap of litter left behind, and all BBQ fires doused with water from the River Taff, with the help of NORML UK donation bucket (we took the money out first).
NORML UK raised 120 GBP and signed up another 70 members. We were also able to promote the NORML UK Women´s Alliance which will have it´s official launch at the NORML UK AGM during the weekend of 31st May and 1st June. Tickets are available from https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/norml-uk-agm-ukcsc-agm-and-norml-uk-women-s-alliance-launch-tickets-11354005135. There are a limited number of early bird weekend tickets available. The Women´s Alliance aims to include women´s voices in the debate surrounding cannabis law reform”.