Now that the coronavirus pandemic has spread to every corner of the world, the cannabis community is forced to take this year's 4/20 celebrations online.
In the United Kingdom, cannabis organizers traditionally hold legalization rallies in London's Hyde Park at 4:20pm on 4/20. These rallies usually have a massive turnout, and last year, around 50,000 people showed up to show their love for the leaf. But this year, as social distancing measures prevent people from gathering together outdoors, the rally's organizers are taking the event online.
The High Club (THC) London, along with Volteface and London Canna Group, launched the UK's first virtual legalization rally this afternoon. “This year’s annual 420 Hyde Park rally in London is going online,” said lead organizer Marwan Elgamal, according to Medical Cannabis Network. “We are broadcasting a digital version of this year’s program to the thousands who usually turn up to the live event. Our aim is to continue to give the cannabis movement a platform to campaign on and spark online activism.”
The virtual event is streaming several music performances along with speeches from dozens of politicians who are fighting to bring cannabis reform to the UK. The featured speakers include several current Members of Parliament, including Conservatives, Labour, and Liberal Democrats, in addition to former health minister Sir Norman Lamb. Online attendees are also able to participate in live interactive discussions.
“Our cannabis laws are not fit for purpose, and the cannabis using community has an important role to play in bringing about the kind of change we’re seeing in other countries and US states,” said Labour MP Jeff Smith, co-founder of the Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform, Medical Cannabis Network reports. “It’s time to end the stigmatization and criminalization of people who consume cannabis, and adopt a harm reduction-focused approach. I’m impressed by the dynamism of campaigners, who are continuing to work on this issue through online activism.”
“We have known for a long time that prohibition has seriously bad outcomes for society, including health, crime, child protection and exploitation, and a large business handed straight over to criminals,” said Crispin Blunt, Conservative MP and Chairman of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group. “This approach has failed, wasting police time and taxpayers' money. Our approach to cannabis, and indeed all drug policy, should be able to proceed on the basis of the evidence.”
Recent polls show that the majority of UK residents now support full adult-use legalization, with 53 percent in favor and only 32 percent opposed. Despite the majority support, most British lawmakers remain firmly opposed to legalization. The country only got around to legalizing medical marijuana in 2018, and the current program still makes it difficult for UK residents to easily access affordable medical cannabis.