Sunday, May 15, 2005

Cannabis March

Surprised myself by stumbling upon this demo, gearing up in leafy Russell Square for a short trod to that concrete sun box, Trafalgar Square. The turnout wasn’t great and no-one I knew had heard about it either. The poor advertising was explained to me to be due to problems getting a licence to march from the authorities. Apparently the organisers had to stump up £1800 for the ‘security’ (presumably plod) and the licence wasn’t awarded until three weeks ago. The march was ostensibly about medical cannabis, presumably being the best route for the grievances to get a hearing and there were a few wheel-chaired bods about the place but it was mostly that studenty crowd that you’d expect. The march itself was OK, quite a bit of media around and samba drummers and pretty girls. Then everybody congregated in sunstroke hell under Nelson to listen to a variety of speakers including Caroline Coon, the lady who started Release. She started badly - "The campaign for the end of prohibition is often pejoratively stigmatised as silly, hippie, white and 'middle-class'" - and then got worse - choice out of context quotes include "Most dealers of cannabis are black" and "Black youth is drawn into the criminal gang culture because cannabis is a sellers market". You can read her somewhat controversial speech here. It is of course actually well-meaning and, listening closely, she may even have a point. But it somehow didnt seem right. Luckily the wind blew the sound all over the place.

I was thinking about how the government keeps drugs illegal because they can make more money out of them that way. The criminalisation of weed is such bad grace that only conspiracy theories really do it justice.