Pubdate: Sat, 28 Feb 2015
Source: Evening Times (UK)
Copyright: 2015 Newsquest (Herald & Times) Limited
Author: Peter Swindon


George Square Event Criticised by Politicians

DRUG users are planning to stage a "cannabis celebration" in 
Glasgow's George Square.

The annual '420 event' sees campaigners gather in a public place on 
April 20 to call for the legalisation of the Class B drug.

Last year Glasgow Cannabis Social Club held a gathering of 150 people 
at Glasgow Green and five were reported to the procurator fiscal for 
flouting the law by lighting up in full view of police.

The maximum penalty for possession of cannabis is five years in prison.

Organisers of this year's event have set up a page on Facebook and 
200 have agreed to attend. They have asked people to vote on where it 
should be held and the big majority opted for George Square.

The Facebook event states the gathering on April 20 is "our day to 
come together publicly in an open space to celebrate with each other 
that we are awake and conscious of this issue that prohibition 
affects all of us."

Bands and comedians are set to take to the stage from 10am until 6pm.

A Facebook post by organiser Glasgow Cannabis Social Club, said: "The 
consequences of prohibition are becoming more apparent as people 
struggle to find jobs with criminal records, families dealing with 
losing their children over use of a plant and patients whose medical 
system has failed them by excluding cannabis."

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont criticised organisers. 
He said: "These people like to pretend cannabis is a harmless drug, 
and won't care that their activities will be witnessed by families 
and children.

"However, it's responsible for one in 10 drug-related hospital 
admissions, and is a gateway substance for more lethal drugs.

"Last year, people were openly smoking cannabis on Glasgow Green, and 
it seemed the police were powerless to do anything about it.

"That cannot be allowed to happen this ti me round."

Christine Duncan, chief executive of Scottish Families Affected by 
Alcohol and Drugs, also raised concerns. She said: "Any glamorising 
of substance misuse cannot be supported as we are too aware of the 
impact, including financial ruin and break-up of families.

"The more young people see an illegal behaviour so publicly 
exhibited, the more difficult it will become to educate them on what 
is still an illegal substance."

Police officers are expected to keep a close watching brief on George 
Square on the day. A force spokesman said: "We are aware of the 
potential for events and gatherings related to cannabis on April 20. 
If events are to take place they will be policed appropriately."

The Evening Times understands that Glasgow Cannabis Social Club 
staged last year's event at Glasgow Green after an application to the 
council for permission was turned down.

The group will have to go through the same process this year if they 
decided to hold an event at George Square, which the local authority 
officially classes as a park.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "Anyone who wants to use 
our parks for events needs to apply for permission and comply with 
our park management rules."

The Evening Times contacted Glasgow Cannabis Social Club but they did 
not respond.
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