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UK: Manchester: 420 cannabis festival: No arrests made at Platt Fields Park event in Fallowfield
Manchester Evening News
Sunday 19 Apr 2015
Hundreds of people lit-up at a festival-style event to celebrate cannabis - yet no arrests were made by police.
More than 400 revellers rolled-up to the ‘420’ day at Platt Fields Park in Fallowfield this afternoon, which was held as part of a world-wide campaign for the legalisation of marijuana.
And despite a previous warning from police, groups of people openly smoked the drug throughout the day.
Festival-goers said they wanted to show people ‘they weren’t criminals’.
Ali Fabric, one of the event organisers, said: “The whole idea is to celebrate weed. It’s not about shoving it in people’s faces. It’s about enjoying it.
“Everyone’s tired of seeing people criminalised for smoking weed. We want to show the public that it’s not harmful and that it should be legalised.”
Chris O’Neill, 26, from Salford, said: “I use cannabis and I think this festival is a really good idea.
“No one here is causing anyone any harm. I don’t drink and I think alcohol causes a lot more harm than weed.”
Emma Bailey, aged 29, also from Salford, added: “I don’t drink or smoke weed, but I’d rather be here than a pub full of drunk people.”
The phrase 420 - pronounced ‘four twenty’ – has become a well-known term in cannabis culture coined by a group of students in California, known as the Waldos, in 1971.
Sunday’s international festival has been held around April 20 for the last four years as a nod to the term.
Organisers first attempted to mark the day in Manchester city centre four years ago, yet moved it Platt Fields Park.
Fallowfield councillor David Royle said the police were ‘damned if they do, damned if they don’t’ when it came to making arrests at the event.
Cllr Royle said: “There is definitely a debate to be had around the legalisation of cannabis.
“Yet until then, cannabis is still illegal and people were smoking it openly near a children’s play area today.
“However I can understand the predicament the police have when dealing with an event like this.
“They’re caught between a rock and a hard place.”
There was no visible police presence during the first three hours of the event, while an M.E.N. reporter was at the scene, however officers said it was monitored throughout the day.
Chief Insp Caroline Hemingway, from South Manchester division, said: “This event has not been planned with the agreement of either Manchester City Council or Greater Manchester Police and we do not condone the smoking of cannabis or support this event.
“Officers have been consulting with Manchester City Council throughout the day and continue to make dynamic assessments about the event and our policing response, balancing this against other calls for service from our communities which we currently deem to be of greater priority.
“Officers will deal with criminal offences that are revealed on an individual basis as they are brought to our attention in the most appropriate and proportionate manner.”
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