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420: 12 Arrested during the Annual ‘High Holiday’

Police arrested 12 people as thousands gathered in Hyde Park to mark the capital’s annual demonstration calling for the drug to be decriminalized. 

Each year on April 20th, Hyde Park is filled with cannabis smokers and enthusiasts protesting British drug laws. On 4/20 thousands of cannabis smokers met in Hyde Park and other public spaces in agitation towards the UK’s drug laws.Clouds of smoke could be seen rising above the demonstrators in the central London park during this years 420 protest.Supporters say they believe attitudes towards the Class B drug have changed and hope it could become legal.A large police presence was seen throughout the demonstration, and random police checks were carried out as the force issued a warning to drug users.Many protesters ignored police warnings not to smoke cannabis during the event. But, protester Chloe told me said the atmosphere was all about peace, and having a sense of community it’s a celebration of marijuana she continued to tell me “I hate the stigma around people who smoke it (marijuana). I’m a respectable person I don’t fit the stereotype of a ‘stoner’ neither are the majority of people here. There are more serious crimes that the police should be focusing on”. Simultaneous events took place across the country, but what is the weed day protest?

4/20 has been celebrated across the world since the 1970s. According to people I spoke to at the event, the ‘high holiday’ takes its name from a group of Californian high school students who would meet up to smoke.

The teenagers, who named themselves the Waldos, would meet every day at 4.20pm by a statue of Louis Pasteur to smoke marijuana.

In 2012 one of the Waldos, Steve Capper, now 63, told The Huffington Post: “We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4.20. It originally started out 4.20-Louis, and we eventually dropped the Louis”.

In the late 1960s The Grateful Dead, an American rock band, moved to California and befriended the Waldos. Because of this 4/20 spread among the bands worldwide fan base, with drug culture magazine High Times eventually taking notice of the phrase.

Cannabis is the most widely-used illegal drug in Britain but it remains a criminal offence to possess or supply it. Possession can result in up to five years in jail, and supply can result in 14 years and an unlimited fine.

Most cannabis smokers report the herb tends to make people feel pleasant, calm, and relaxed. Here are a few sensations that are common with cannabis:

  • Skewed perception of time
  • Easy movements, bodily relaxation
  • Joy, euphoria,
  • Drowsiness or increased mental energy
  • Forgetfulness
  • Nausea, and increased feeling of hunger ‘munchies’

In some cases, the drug may cause feelings of anxiety, suspicion, panic and paranoia. Those who are worried about the effects of cannabis should Talk to Frank.

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