December 5 2013 Latest news:
Public affairs correspondent
Friday, August 30, 2013
Norfolk police have urged cannabis campaigners planning to smoke the drug during a protest in a Norwich park to scrap the event.
But the protest by the drug users has been backed by the former chief constable of a neighbouring county, who says prohibition of cannabis should end and be replaced by control and regulation.
A string of such cannabis ‘picnics’ have been held across the country and one is planned for Chapelfield Gardens on Sunday afternoon – which campaigners say is to raise awareness of the medical benefits of the drug.
However, Norfolk police have urged the campaigners to cancel the event and have pointed out that children are likely to be making use of the park at that time on a Sunday.
A spokesman for Norfolk police said: “Norfolk Constabulary is aware of the locally organised event. Our concerns around this, especially in a location used by all members of the public, have been expressed to the organisers and we will be monitoring it.
“Those considering attending are reminded that whilst they have a right to a peaceful assembly any offences committed, particularly those under the Misuse of Drugs Act, will be dealt with appropriately. We have informed Norwich City Council accordingly.”
Long-standing Norwich cannabis campaigner, Alun Buffry is one of those planning to attend the event.
He said: “It’s a way to push forward the medicinal benefits of cannabis and to show that people who smoke really want to be able to go somewhere where they can do it and socialise.
“Probably some people who go will smoke and some of them won’t.
“From speaking to the police, we’ve agreed to hold it away from the children’s play areas and we will be having marshals, so if young people wander in, we can encourage them to go elsewhere.”
He said there had been regular similar events in Chapelfield Gardens up until 10 years ago, which had passed off without any trouble.
He said people going with cannabis were aware of the risk of police action.
And Tom Lloyd, former chief constable of Cambridgeshire police and an international drug policy advisor, backed the campaigners’ right to protest.