Sunday, April 30, 2006

parliament square medical cannabis protest: why we filled in the form

Above: Pills or Herb: the right to choose your own medicine.


In many countries all demonstrations are either illegal or subject to police attack even if they are supposedly within the law. Many overseas readers will therefore be amazed to know that until recently in Britain it was not necessary to ask permission from the police to demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament (Parliament Square) in London.

But now a new law requires advance permission to demonstrate in front of the 'Mother of Parliaments' - although the law also obliges the police to agree to any reasonable request. All that is required is the filling in of a simple form. Demonstrations elsewhere still do not require permission.

Some people have been campaigning against this new law by defying it and holding demonstrations without permission. However over 150 other demonstrations have been held legally outside the Parliament building since the new law was passed, by organisers filling in the form.

Given the importance of the medical cannabis issue, and our policy of trying to work with the authorities when organising public events to change the law on cannabis, we decided to also go the legal route in organising this demonstration. The event is therefore legal, although we are promoting the use of an illegal herb as a medicine - cannabis. We have also organised a 'legal' room - inside the Parliament Building!

As part of publicising the Medical Cannabis Demo in Parliament Square (May 24th) we put up a notice on Indymedia, which says it offers "grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues."

The only responce our message had was from an obvious 'fundamentalist' to ask if we had asked permission for the Parliament Sq Demo, implying we were 'sell outs' if we had:

Will you be seeking police permission for the demo? Or will you be exercising your rights, regardless of the oppressive SOCPA law?

This was our answer which we hope was ok (comments welcome):

Yes, we have asked for permission - because this event is about medical repression, not the politics of form filling. Filling in a form was not nearly as repressive as being denied medicine which could give you relief when you are suffering a serious illness and in pain.

Imagine being ill - and then being raided by the police, having the only medicine you have that works taken from you, and being thrown in jail. That is real repression, and it is happening to people all over the world, including Britian. Repression is what this protest event is about - globalised medical repression. We are trying to stop repression in support of multi national drug companies who are selling a slow, complicated and profitable death; when a simple herb can bring relief.

Sorry if it upsets you, but we leave the politics of form filling to others, who obviously have more time - and more freedom - on their hands. We are fighting for our lives and our health, and the lifes and health of our friends and relations, and the lives and health of millions of people world wide.

Please join us - don't slag us off for filling in a form!

This event is part of the Global Marijuana March 2006.


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