Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
JayDay March, south London, May 4th 2002
Wheelchair users and samba dancers lead the march through south London which preceeded the fourth annual Cannabis Festival, 2002. Photo: Richie Andrew

Jayday Lives

Cannabis Festival draws large crowd as Select Committee backs change of law

20th May 2002

Around 30,000 people attended the fourth annual Cannabis Festival in south London on May 4 in a massive demonstration largely unreported in the mainstream press.

The event was preceeded with a march which saw around 3000 people, a sound system and a double decker bus journey through south London before joining the festival in Brockwell Park, Brixton.

This year's 'Extravaganga' passed unblighted by the rain which threatened to drown last year's event and, once again, there were no fights or trouble despite the huge numbers.

"There were very few arrests and no trouble. We have no complaints from either the council or the police," the Festival's licensee, Shane Collins, told SQUALL. As was to be expected at a Cannabis Festival, there were copious numbers of joints and pipes openly smoked throughout the afternoon. However, Brixton police, who are experimenting with a liberal policy of not arresting people for Cannabis use, did not attempt to prevent anyone smoking.

"We made a complaint to the police about the arrest of a couple of dealers," said Collins. "They were the first arrests for Cannabis in Brixton for a couple of years. The police replied that they had not gone to the festival aiming to arrest people but that a few individuals were openly selling large amounts of Cannabis in front of their officers and they couldn't ignore it." This was confirmed by witnesses.

A wealth of sound systems, live stages and a massive kids area provided free entertainment throughout the afternoon. Unlike last year's festival, the 2002 Cannabis Festival has nearly broken even leaving an overall debt from last year of £9000. The Festival is run largely on a voluntary basis by a team of people united in their political position on the legalisation or decriminalisation of Cannabis.

The donation buckets at the festival brought in £10,000, a sum described as an "amazing show of support" by festival organisers.

Calls for a change in the law on Cannabis were further strengthened two weeks after the Festival when the Home Affairs Select Committee at the House of Commons recommended Cannabis should be reclassified as a Class C substance and that punitive measures should be targeted only against dealers. Furthermore the committee said there should be a differentiation between "social supply of drugs" and "dealing for profit".

The committee also recommended that Ecstasy should be reclassified as a Class B drug rather than Class A next to Heroin and Crack. The Home Office still insist they will ignore the select committee's recommendation.

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