Town horrified by cannabis protest plan

EXCLUSIVEBy Liz HearnshawA COUNCILLOR has described as “absolutely horrifying” a plan for about 50 cannabis users to smoke the drug during a protest march in a town.

EXCLUSIVE

By Liz Hearnshaw

A COUNCILLOR has described as “absolutely horrifying” a plan for about 50 cannabis users to smoke the drug during a protest march in a town.

A “Smokey Bear's Picnic” will be held in Brandon on July 17 to raise awareness of the campaign for the legalisation of the drug.


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The event organiser, who asked not to be named, said: “People have the right to chose what they do and this is all about freedom of choice.

“Hopefully, this will be a big gathering of people who support legalisation and there should be around 50 coming along.

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“This is just a kind of protest. This issue is out there and needs to be addressed. If people do not like it, they do not have to get involved.”

When asked if the protesters would be smoking the drug, the organiser replied simply: “Hopefully.”

The protesters are planning at Brandon railway station before marching to the town's leisure centre in an event that has been advertised on a pro-cannabis website.

But Eddie Stewart, who serves on Forest Heath District Council and lives in the town, said he suspected the people of Brandon may gather together to try to stop the march.

“As a district councillor and a grandfather, I am absolutely horrified. I did not even know there was an organised group of cannabis smokers,” he added.

“What next? Heroin addicts or LSD users? Cannabis is a horrible drug, which can lead to other things and mind problems. I just hope this is a group of youngsters fooling about - but this is not a joke.

“Children use the playing fields near the leisure centre and footballers meet up there at weekends. I do not want to see anything like that happening anywhere near kids.”

The “Smokey Bear” events began in California in the early 1970s and gatherings have been held across Britain over the past few years, with violence erupting between protesters and police at picnics in Hampshire.

Stephen Edwards, who represents Brandon on Forest Heath District Council, said: “Obviously these people have a right to have their views, but if things come to a confrontation between the police and campaigners, I do not think anyone would welcome that.

“Hopefully, the police will have a watching brief to see what is going on. I do not think anyone wants violence of any sort.”

Detective Chief Inspector John Brighton, crime manager for Suffolk police, said officers would police the event in an appropriate manner.

“Where criminal offences are disclosed, offenders will be dealt with in a firm and appropriate manner,” he added.

“As with the majority of pre-arranged events, we will endeavour to make contact with the organisers to ensure that the day passes peacefully and within the law.”

A spokesman for Forest Heath District Council, which runs the leisure centre, said: “Obviously this is nothing to do with Brandon leisure centre. We will carry out our own investigation and alert the police.”

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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