On Sunday afternoon, a bunch of Britain’s weed smokers hauled themselves out of their sofas and up to Hyde Park. London’s premier 4/20 destination drew groups from every stoner tribe – West Country hippies, south London Millwall fans, endless teenage boys in New Era hats – to roll spliffs under umbrellas and talk about legalising the herb.
However, while 4/20 has long been a day for legalisation rallies in the US, it doesn’t really hold the same kind of significance in the UK; here, we’ve never really had political or social movements around weed on the same kind of scale as those in the States. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t, but I find it hard to work out how a load of people going to a park to listen to drum n bass and roll 20-inch Rips in the middle of a rainstorm is going to change anything.
For most of the people there, Sunday was likely just an excuse to get very high with lots of other people who wanted to get very high. But for the semi-professional legalisation advocates who hijacked the event it was apparently an occasion that could help convince the government that weed's not so bad after all. Of course, that was a little misguided; handing out flyers, cannabis seeds and various other bits of anti-prohibition merchandise to lots of people who already agree with you isn't exactly going to have Cameron completely rethinking his stance on pot.
Those doing the flyering were mostly representatives of the UK's various cannabis social clubs. The community that's sprung up around these clubs is about as organised a movement as the British cannabis landscape has ever had, and it's one that could potentially achieve some change if those involved go about their efforts in a practical, legitimate way. But being practical and legitimate usually involves political lobbying or trying to start a discourse with legislators, not telling a bunch of stoners something they already know.
Granted, a huge congregation of weed smokers isn't a bad place to recruit people to your weed smoking cause, but it's not somewhere you're going to bring about any real kind of change. Next year, instead of preaching to the choir, how about holding a 4/20 event outside Parliament and taking the message to the people who could actually do something about it?