16 Apr The Guardian: ‘Why Thousands Of People Are Going To Get High In Hyde Park’
This Sunday is ‘420 Day’, an organised protest in favour of cannabis legalisation, when users and campaigners are expected to turn up at the London park in huge numbers for a picnic and a puff on a joint.
This sort of protest endangers all the real work being done for cannabis law reform.
Hyde Park 420, once again, will give politicians the excuse they need to do nothing. More than 40 years of demonstrations and rallies have achieved absolutely zilch except to portray cannabis users as outlaws from society. It hasn’t worked. Some would say we’ve gone backwards.
I used to think it would work. I have changed my mind. This is the age of the internet: 2014, not 1968.
We need to be much smarter and use effectively the tools and power we have to hand. Reform in the US has been achieved despite, not because of such behaviour. Diligent, focused, planning, lobbying, presenting evidence, engaging with lawful and governmental process is what has worked.
While such events may make the people who attend feel they are doing something useful, they actually work against our cause. It will be seen, unfairly, as a bunch of scruffy, law breaking drug takers forcing themselves on the public. Last year we had ‘dabs’, extremely powerful cannabis concentrates, being handed out willy nilly and blazed in front of kids. The media, the police and the prohibitionists will have a field day. There will be lots of children involved.
Cannabis is now a mainstream issue that needs to be addressed seriously. Not only are its health harms far less than tobacco, alcohol, all POM and OTC medicines but scientists now recognise that for most adults, in moderation, it’s actually good for you. Cannabis is a natural supplement to our endocannabinoid system and helps to protect against autoimmune conditions such as diabetes and cancer. It is also useful for the treatment of MS, chronic pain, Crohn’s, brain injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Intensive, serious work is going on behind the scenes. Major law firms are involved in multiple causes of action for judicial review of ministers’ decisions. We have GPs, senior NHS consultants, scientists and MPs actively working for reform. These efforts must not be disrupted by bad press and irresponsible behaviour. Far better to write to your MP, arrange to meet your MP, ask your MP to arrange a meeting with a minister. This is what works.
But if you are going, please stay safe, remember you represent what the general public thinks about cannabis. Don’t be photographed mixing cannabis with tobacco. Don’t be photographed with any children or teenagers – and have a great time!