Boy (15) arrested at pro-cannabis protest in Derry
Police made one arrest and searched a number of people under the Misuse of Drugs Act yesterday during a mass pro-cannabis protest in Londonderry.
Up to 200 gathered in the shadow of the city's Guildhall yesterday afternoon to smoke cannabis in unison, joining thousands of '4/20' protesters across the UK lighting up to hit out at the Government's drug laws and celebrate April 20 - Global Weed Day.
A cloud of pungent smoke hung over Guildhall Square as cannabis-lovers, called to the protest by Legenderry Cannabis Club, lit up as their part of the 4/20 protest.
A Legenderry Cannabis Club spokesman said it was a demonstration to show that people who took cannabis were "done being criminalised".
"They say sharing a spliff is drug dealing, but I say it's caring," he said.
"This is a peaceful protest to show we want change and we want it now. We need to show the PSNI and anyone else watching that we as a community are done being criminalised and forced into the dark by their discrimination on us for making healthier lifestyle choices."
Barry Brown of pro-cannabis party CISTA said he had smoked a joint during the protest.
"I had prepared one to light up at 4.20pm. It was lovely. I knew that the police would be walking among the crowd," he revealed.
"The crowd were well behaved, everyone knew why they were here. We were here in peaceful solidarity. The law needs to change." Former People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann also joined the protest, although he refused to be drawn on whether he partook of a spliff.
"It is illegality that makes cannabis dangerous," he said. "Remove the legal ban on cannabis and all things will be transformed.
"If I had smoked a joint in Guildhall Square, I wouldn't believe that I had done anything terribly wrong. That's not to say I did smoke a joint."
Dozens of police officers in high-visibility jackets patrolled around the protest initially before moving in and searching people.
The PSNI said a number of people were searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
A 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of possession of a class B-controlled drug and remained in custody last night.
A 17-year-old boy was also spoken to by police and taken home.
Protesters moved to outside Strand Road PSNI station after the arrest, where they stood chanting the name of the young man.
Meanwhile in London, scores of marijuana lovers descended on Hyde Park in an attempt to stage the "world's biggest celebration of cannabis".
Similar events took place across the world.