CultureWritten By Chris Bovey

April 21, 2018

Thousands attend 420 cannabis protests throughout the UK

Council’s application to ban cannabis protest turned down

By Chris Bovey

Yesterday was 4/20, the annual event where cannabis consumers throughout the world protest to change unjust laws outlawing the plant.

The tradition has its roots in the USA, held on 20th April, that being the fourth month of the year. “420” is a common phrase used in cannabis culture, however, nobody is entirely why. Some people believe it is because of the California Senate Bill 420 (colloquially known as the Medical Marijuana Program Act) that was subsequently passed in 2003, however, that is not the reason, as 420 has been used many years prior to that.

Britain’s biggest event was the annual smoke out in London’s Hyde Park, which the Metro reported 5,000 people attended, however, the London Cannabis Club which helps to organise the event say the figure was much higher, putting it at 18,000, the highest attendance to date.

It was a sunny day which brought out bigger crowds to “peacefully” protest and call on the Government to legalise the Class B drug. Afterwards, campaigners cleaned up any rubbish that had been left.

Hyde Park London cannabis demo
Thousands turn out at the London Hyde Park 4/20 event to protest at our unjust cannabis laws.

London was not the only place to hold a 4/20 protest. Events were held in from as far as Plymouth in the South West of England to the far north of Scotland, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland.

This year was the first time the authorities tried to stop a 4/20 event, but they were not successful. In Leeds, the local Council unsuccessfully sought a Minority Report kind of injunction to try to stop any pre-Crimes for the event scheduled at Woodhouse Moor Park in Leeds.

Leeds Cannabis Social Club was notified of the Court documents via a public e-mail address as they had promoted awareness of the annual gathering via social media. A spokesperson from the LCSC said, “It’s a tradition people just turn up even if they know don’t about the movement”.

This is the first time any council has tried to impose legal action against any cannabis protest in the UK.

Leeds Council actually managed to file and get an interim injunction against the 420 protest in Leeds but the initial Judge was not happy that the defendants (who were not identified on the court application) had not even been notified which sparked the action of this second hearing.

Legal advisor, Darryl Bickler, a non-practising human rights lawyer, successfully persuaded the judge they were judging pre-crime, there is no proof that any of the accusations are going to take place”.

Greg de Hoedt, Chairman of the UK Cannabis Social Clubs, which helps to coordinate these events throughout the UK said “This is the first and only cannabis event in the UK to have legal proceedings brought against it before it has happened. In other parts of the country, the councils and the police work directly with the cannabis communities to ensure that the public and the protesters have a safe day where everyone’s freedoms are protected.

“Authorities are there to police with a proportionate response but in the vast majority of cases the police respect the cannabis protesters and engage in open dialogue. Some even pose for pictures with campaigners who are known for helping patients that use cannabis as a medicine.

“We hope this situation means that Leeds Council can have a more approachable and constructive dialogue with local cannabis campaigners in the future,” said Mr de Hoedt.


Chris Bovey, writer and musician.
Chris Bovey is a businessman, writer, musician and practical joker. He lives in Devon with his partner, two children and cat.