Pubdate: Sat,  6 May 2000
Source: Independent, The (UK)
Copyright: 2000 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Contact:  1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL
Author: Andrea Babbington


Campaigners for the legalisation of cannabis were today marching through 
the streets of London.

Organisers the International Cannabis Coalition stress that the 
demonstration was to be a peaceful protest to end the prohibition of cannabis.

Artist Caroline Coon, a guest speaker at the event, said: "If you make 
drugs like this outside the law they become exciting to young people.

"It is difficult to educate them about the dangers of something which is 
illegal and so there is a higher risk that they will secretly go on to try 
hard drugs with disastrous effects.

"London mayor Ken Livingstone wants to get drug dealers off our streets. 
But by banning drugs you just drive dealers underground and create a huge 
Mafia in which it is difficult for the police to remain incorruptible.

"Drug dealers and manufacturers need to be brought within the law so drugs 
can be controlled and licensed in the same way as alcohol and nicotine."

In 1967 Ms Coon founded RELEASE, which is a 24-hour helpline for young 
people with drugs problems, and has been campaigning for the legalisation 
of cannabis ever since.

Today's London event will be mirrored at venues around the world.

Speakers will include author of Mr Nice Guy, Howard Marks, jailed for 
cannabis smuggling, Joe Strummer - the former lead singer with The Clash - 
and comedian Mark Thomas.
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