1998: The Independent on Sunday Decriminalise Cannabis march
Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square in London, March 28th 1998
The Independent on Sunday newspaper (the Sindy) under the editorship of Rosey Boycott ran a decriminalise cannabis campaign in the early part of 1998. They thought, along with most of us, that the new Labour government would take a more intelligent line toward the issue of drugs, which at the very least would include the decriminalisation of cannabis.
Sadly as we were to discover, the new Labour government under the direction of Tony Blair and his new home secretary Jack Straw were intent on keeping the failed policies of the previous Conservative administration. Tony Blair apparently said he was going to "breath new life" into the war on drugs and announced the appointment of a so-called "Drug Tsar", following the American model.
The Sindy gave up it's campaign almost immediately, but not before it had organised this demo in London, which breathed new life onto the Legalise Cannabis Campaign and laid the ground for the subsequent Cannabis Carnivals.
The day started damp and grey and when I arrived in Hyde park about half an hour before the start, there were only a few people there, but almost all at once, everyone turned up and around 15,000 people marched through the West End, toking away as they went, there were, of course, no arrests.
As we made our way through the streets, the sun came out and it became a really nice day. Trafalgar Square was packed and we stood around for a while listening to speeches. When I left around 5.00pm or so, the square was bathed in sunshine and full of people sitting around getting stoned.
It was a nice day out and marked the start of the really big movement to free the weed. Had it not been for the blinkered attitude of Jack Straw in particular, the law would have changed very quickly, but it was not to be.
Below are images taken from the video