Every year on 20th April, thousands of cannabis consumers and campaigners converge on London’s Hyde Park to protest against the UK’s punitive cannabis laws and legislation.
Thanks to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, organisers have had to get creative. To comply with social distancing rules this year’s festival will go ahead online, with unprecedented support from leading politicians. Could 2020 be the year cannabis legislation begins to change?
For the first time, the UK’s 4/20 festival will feature politicians who have campaigned for cannabis law reform. Speakers include Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, Labour MP Jeff Smith, Conservative GLA Member Andrew Boff, Liberal Democrat London mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita and former health minister Sir Norman Lamb. During the broadcast, viewers will also hear performances from different artists, listen to top experts in the cannabis industry, and be able to engage in live interactive discussions.
Marwan Elgamal, the lead organiser of 4/20, said: “This year’s annual 4/20 Hyde Park rally in London is going online. We are broadcasting a digital version of this year’s programme to the thousands who usually turn up to the live event. Our aim is to continue to give the cannabis movement a platform to campaign on and spark online activism.”
Data from a recent YouGov survey shows that the UK is now broadly in support of cannabis legalisation, with 53% in favour, 32% in opposition and the rest undecided. Cross-party support for legislation change also appears to be growing, with MP’s from all major parties campaigning for a health based approach.
Jeff Smith, Labour MP for Withington, Co-Chair of the APPG for Drug Policy Reform and co-founder of the Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform, said:
“Our cannabis laws are not fit for purpose and the cannabis using community has an important role to play in bringing about the kind of change we’re seeing in other countries and U.S. states. It’s time to end the stigmatisation and criminalisation of people who consume cannabis, and adopt a harm reduction focused approach. I’m impressed by the dynamism of campaigners, who are continuing to work on this issue through online activism.”
Meanwhile, Crispin Blunt, Conservative MP for Reigate, Co-Chair of the APPG for Drug Policy Reform and Chairman of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, said:
“We have known for a long time that prohibition has seriously bad outcomes for society including health, crime, child protection and exploitation and a large business handed straight over to criminals. This approach has failed, wasting police time and taxpayers money. Our approach to cannabis, and indeed all drug policy, should be able to proceed on the basis of the evidence.
I’m happy to engage with a movement that has entrepreneurs and experience to contribute to a legal British cannabis industry. Only by eliminating the black market can we protect our children, reduce crime and violence and successfully bear down on the harmful spectrum of drug consumption through a comprehensive public health and education approach funded by that industry.”
The event is being organised by The High Club, a leading cannabis lifestyle brand based out of London that supports UK cannabis reform, Volteface, an advocacy organisation campaign for harm reduction approach to drug policy, and London Canna Group, an event and marketing agency powering some of the UK’s leading CBD brands. The 4/20 festival will be broadcast in conjunction with the organisers on Monday 20th April 2020 at 15:45 on leafie’s Facebook and Instagram pages.