Rosie Boycott's speech in Trafalgar Square
28 March 1998

Thank you, thank you very much indeed. It was 6 months ago to the day, tomorrow, that we launched the campaign in the Independent on Sunday. I wrote a piece saying that when I was 17 I had sat in Hyde Park and rolled a joint and it had fallen apart, but I wanted to do it because I wanted to strive out and be part of a generation that believed in changing the world and in freedom; and in that time I am now a mother myself and I see our children are still getting prosecuted for doing the same things that we did.

I, myself, am someone who recovered from alcoholism in my early 30's. The stuff damned near killed me; I know what addiction is about. And I know that you don't get addicted to cannabis.

I know that the Government have tried to prove that people died from taking cannabis. Nobody dies. One of the 4 deaths in the last decade was a customs man who tried to jump from one boat to another and he very unfortunately fell between the two.

This today is the biggest party, and my friends know I give a lot of parties, that I've ever been involved in.

This march is a result of People Power. It's not just the newspaper, the campaign is now much bigger than any of us. When we started it off I had no idea how many people, how many doctors, how many policemen, prison warders, probation officers, teachers and doctors would write to us and lend us their support. We were not as Alistair Campbell said from Downing Street that first morning, a bunch of middle-aged hippies who occasionally liked to get stoned. And so what if we were, but we weren't. It was a much bigger movement that was to do with Civil Liberty, that was to do wit changing the law.

I want people to respect the law. We all want to respect the law. We want our children to respect the law. But if they go out and smoke a joint and find it's OK, then their experience tells them one thing and the law is telling them another, and that is not the way to bring them up.

So, this is a party, this is a party for everybody, and it's also a beginning. And I have a number of people now who I need to thank. What is important about today is that many, many groups have become involved, in fact more groups than I have ever seen anywhere, have now come together to make plans, people have come from lots of countries and I'm really grateful.

But a special thank you to Release, to the London Medical Marijuana Support Group, and to the people with MS who came here and bravely walked with us and who spoke so courageously.

To the Campaign to Legalise Cannabis International association.

To Transform, to Alchemy who printed and distributes fliers and T-shirts.

To the work staff who did all the e-mails. To Debbie Ellis, my great friend, and to Chris Brown on work experience with us and who really pulled the whole thing together and actually we would not be here without them so give them a clap.

To the Green Party Drugs group, all of Hempology and the student's unions around the country who helped make the posters, and to Prima Vera records who sent posters to the DJs. And finally to the owners of our newspaper who were courageous enough to let this campaign go ahead, and who have supported us all the way through.

It's been a great day and I hope we're not here in 30 years too. Bye


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