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London Cannabis Festival: Soaking Wet But Almost Legal

Author: Skrufff
Saturday, June 23, 2001
Over 30,000 demonstrators braved torrential rain torms last Saturday to protest against Britain's continuing prohibition against cannabis. Thousands marched the two mile walk from Oval Tube which culminated in a free outdoor festival in Brixton's Brockwell Park (South London). Despite the huge turnout (particularly given the weather) the festival attracted minimal mainstream media coverage, almost certainly because it took place in Brixton, one of London's most deprived and rundown boroughs. Ironically, the area is also set to become the first place in Britain where cannabis users won't be prosecuted, reflecting Brixton's status as an atypical part of London. From July, Lambeth cops will be letting smokers go with a warning rather than arresting them, in order to concentrate on crack cocaine.

"Finite police resources are facing such serious issues as open market crack dealing and related gun crime, street robbery, burglary and violence against the community and hate crime. They are all seen by us as priorities" Lambeth's top cop Commander Brian Paddick said last week. "I've never met anyone who had to commit crime to fund a cannabis habit, but crack cocaine users commit robbery, burglary and car crime,"

Denying emphatically that the new strategy meant backdoor legalisation, a Scotland Yard spokesman explained that most people currently convicted of cannabis possession are being fined under £50 ($US70). "What is the point of spending hours in the police station charging someone for possessing cannabis, with all the paperwork that involves, when magistrates courts routinely only fine users £10 or £20- Our research shows that the legal process costs the taxpayer up to £10,000 (per case)," he said.(The Standard)
Links: (UK Campaigners for legalising drugs: 00 44 (0) 117-939 8052) (Cannabis newsletter)