Thousands March in London to Legalize Marijuana
On March 28 in London, thousands of supporters marched for the legalization of marijuana (Graham Ball and Clare Garner, "Thousands march for cannabis law reform," Independent on Sunday, March 29, 1998, sec.1, p. 1; T.R. Reid, "Britons March for Marijuana," Washington Post, March 29, 1998, p. A25; Graham Ball, "Cannabis Campaign: The Message Marches," Independent on Sunday, April 5, 1998).
Participants in the march estimated attendance at over 16,000, possibly up to 25,000, while Scotland Yard estimated attendance at around 11,000. The largest march for marijuana reform in over 30 years, the event was part of a campaign to decriminalize marijuana sponsored by the British newspaper, the Independent on Sunday. The campaign has the open support of members of Parliament; business leaders such as Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic Airways and Body Shop founder Anita Roddick; former Beatle Paul McCartney; and European Union Commissioner Emma Bonnino.
The two-mile march began in Hyde Park and ended in Trafalgar Square. "There was every age group, every strata of society, and it was very well-behaved. Nobody flouted the law and nobody was arrested during the march. The police were incredibly helpful and full of jokes," said Rosie Boycott, editor of the Independent on Sunday. "We want politicians to see that it isn't going to lose them votes to look at the issue." According to a poll on national Talk Radio in England, two-thirds of people want marijuana legalized.
After the march British "Drugs Tsar," Keith Hellawell, denounced the campaign as a "red herring." Home Secretary Jack Straw, whose son was arrested on marijuana charges in December 1997, said he does not support changing Britain's marijuana laws.
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