420 Hyde Park: Cannabis smokers and activists gather in London

The Met Police warned that cannabis use remains illegal and said it would be engaging with those attending 420.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Weed smokers, businesses and activists took to Hyde Park today to celebrate 420. The day is an annual international countercultural celebration of marijuana, which takes place on April 20.

Despite plans for a ramp up in anti-drug legislation by the Home Office, and considerable Met Police presence, people took advantage of the sunny weather. Many attendees were seen relaxing with friends, while others were there to protest against the UK’s drug laws.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jim, a supporter of cannabis legalisation, said: “I’ve been coming to this event for a few years. I don’t smoke, but I come to show my support for the cause.

“The event has definitely grown in popularity over the years, even with increased action against drug takers. I’m more of a whiskey man myself.”

He said he believes the law and its enforcement are too strict.

“A better way of controlling weed is legalising it,” he said. “If you sold it in shops and taxed it, not only could you regulate it more easily, but the tax money could go into the public pot for much needed services like the NHS.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It concerns me that when I walk around London, I always see young Black men searched and detained for carrying personal amounts of weed,” Jim said. “At the same time, in Pimlico, where I live, I can always smell the whiff of drugs coming from posh buildings, but barely anyone is ever stopped in those affluent areas.”

420 in Hyde Park. (Photos by Rose Morelli)420 in Hyde Park. (Photos by Rose Morelli)
420 in Hyde Park. (Photos by Rose Morelli)

The Met Police

Asked about enforcement at 420, a Met Police spokesperson said: “Using cannabis and other recreational drugs is illegal.

“Officers may enforce legislation under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, through community resolution orders, postal charge acquisitions and arrests if there are aggravating factors like supply or associated antisocial behaviour.”

They added: “There is a proportionate and graduated policing plan in place to prevent, deter and detect criminal offences.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“This includes the possession and use of drugs, and any associated crime of disorder. Met officers will engage with attendees, and encourage them to deposit their drugs in the amnesty bins provided.”

All major entrances to Hyde Park were equipped with police search tents, amnesty bins, and signage reminding attendees that recreational drugs are illegal. Cannabis remains illegal as a Class B drug, and possession can result in a five-year prison sentence, a fine, or both.

Orange County CBD at 420 Hyde Park. (Photo by Rose Morelli)Orange County CBD at 420 Hyde Park. (Photo by Rose Morelli)
Orange County CBD at 420 Hyde Park. (Photo by Rose Morelli)

CBD businesses

The crowd included cannabis-related action groups and small businesses.

“We’re here to raise some brand awareness for our CBD products,” said Dave, from Orange County CBD, who was accompanied by a brand spokesperson dressed as a big bag of Orange County CBD edibles.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

CBD is the non-psychoactive component of weed and is legal to sell in the UK. While its sister component THC is known for getting users ‘high’, CBD is believed to have other beneficial properties.

“We do all sorts of CBD products: edibles, gummies, oils,” said Dave. “You can see loads of other brands coming here as well. It’s a good place to raise awareness in the mainstream.”

Extinction Rebellion’s The Big One takes place this weekend. (Photo by Rose Morelli)Extinction Rebellion’s The Big One takes place this weekend. (Photo by Rose Morelli)
Extinction Rebellion’s The Big One takes place this weekend. (Photo by Rose Morelli)

Extinction Rebellion

Also present were members of activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion, including Ann-Marie, who said: “We’re here to spread the word about the XR protests that kick off tomorrow.

“This is very much our crowd, so we want to let people know that our four-day protest starts at 7am tomorrow on Parliament Square.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The police have actually been mostly good and friendly to us today,” she said. “We’re allowed to be here as long as we don’t play loud music or use speakers.”

Cannabis and health

The NHS warns that cannabis can make some existing mental health symptoms worse and has been linked with the possible development of mental health issues. It also warns of the risks around lung disease.