The Brixton Cannabis Coalition regrets the decision supported by the Lambeth Executive to ignore the agreed public events policy and try to ban the Cannabis March and Festival on Saturday 7th May because of cannabis dealers at last years festival.

Instead of the application for a licence being taken by the relevant licensing committees the decision has been made by Cllr Clare Whelan, Tory Executive member for Environment and ratified by the Executive. This is contrary to Cllr Whelan’s statement to the Executive on 4th November 2004.

“If an application is received the outcome will be determined in line with the events policy and the decision of the relevant quasi-judicial Licensing Committee”.
The Police and festival organisers were not consulted on the ban.

The Brixton Cannabis Coalition request that our application is dealt with in the normal way. We ask supporters to sign our petition. We also acknowledge and share council concerns regarding cannabis dealers during the march and festival. This is a problem for us and any large open access event in Brockwell Park.

The organisers have requested police action, as in previous years, to deter dealers, but have ultimately no direct control over what they do or how they prioritise the issue of dealers. We invite Lambeth Council officers to join the police and the Coalition to work through these problems in a planning meeting on 11am Monday 7th March at Frank O’Neil House, Clapham Road.

Over the last 6 years the Council have taken the Festival to court twice for alleged minor licencing violations, both times we were found not guilty. They then doubled the cost of using the park by charging us a commercial rate. This year the Council has not even allowed us to put our proposals before the Licencing Committee. This is against the agreed Parks Event Policy. This is political football in Lambeth.

Last year the Cannabis Festival attracted only 4 public complaints, – based on noise, 7 arrests – one for dealing and was enjoyed by many thousands of people. We think there is a question of balance.

In a sane and tolerant society we would be consulted and recognised for putting on a safe and free event, instead Lambeth Council have made no attempt to overcome this problem but simply use it as a means to prohibit us.

We recognise that Cllr Whelan and the Executive may have more than technical problems with us. We suspect their reasons may be political. We may not fit in with their politics, their corporate, public relations driven, glossy vision of Lambeth.

The influx of West Indians from the 50’s, young urban professional clubbers and pragmatic policing in the 90’s, has given Lambeth reputation as a progressive, culturally rich and diverse area. We are part of this diversity.

We invite the Council to work with us and the police to overcome these issues, however if they refuse and simply try to prohibit the March and Festival then we accuse the Executive of being intolerant of diversity. We note the media’s reaction to the Council’s ban has already increased the size of the march. Presumably people will want to do something after the march. The question for the Executive is do they want it done licenced or unlicenced. A bit like the sale of cannabis really.