Cannabis march passes off peacefully

A PRO-cannabis march involving an estimated 30 people went off peacefully in Suffolk over the weekend despite fears the demonstration would lead to violent confrontations.

A PRO-cannabis march involving an estimated 30 people went off peacefully in Suffolk over the weekend despite fears the demonstration would lead to violent confrontations.

Last week, the organiser of the "Smokey Bear's Picnic" march was condemned for planning to lead the protestors close to playing fields used by young children.

The local man, who did not want to be named, intended for the cannabis users to smoke the drug as they walked from the railway station in Brandon to the town's leisure centre during the event, which had been advertised on a pro-cannabis website.

But on Saturday afternoon the organiser was nowhere to be seen as the group of protestors peacefully carried out the march, completely avoiding the area where children were playing.


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Eddie Stewart, who serves on Forest Heath District Council and lives in Brandon, said before Saturday's march that he was absolutely horrified the protest would be staged in an area surrounded by children.

But last night he said he had been pleased with the way the march had been carried out, and added he thought the youngsters were entitled to their own opinion.

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"There were a few teenagers, a lot of whom I recognised as local lads, who walked across the far-side of the field adjacent to the leisure centre," he said.

"The police were present and walked with the boys to make sure there was no trouble, which there wasn't.

"If they are marching to legislate the use of cannabis then I don't really think they are going to get very far with their campaign, but I do think they are entitled to do it and I feel that everyone has got a right to express their own opinions."

The "Smokey Bear" events began in California in the early 1970s and gatherings have been held across Britain over the past few years.

In August 1999 Hampshire Police cracked down on a similar event and 30 people were arrested for possessing cannabis during the rally in Portsmouth.

Yesterday a spokeswoman for Suffolk police confirmed that 30 people had attended the march, but said "there were no problems".

Officers refused to comment on whether any of the protestors had been caught using cannabis.

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