A Belfast councillor has called on a pro-cannabis group to cancel its planned ‘4/20’ public cannabis smoking event in the city.
The Facebook page ‘Legalise Cannabis – Northern Ireland’ has announced the event ‘Botanic Blaze at 4/20’ which will take place in Botanic Gardens on 20 April beginning at 4:20pm.
Over 200 people have confirmed on Facebook that they will be attending the event.
A post on the page reads “Lets all just chill out in Botanic Gardens this 4/20 and enjoy our own dedicated day”.
4/20 is a code-term that refers to the consumption of cannabis, especially smoking cannabis around the time 4:20 pm and smoking and celebrating cannabis on the date of April 20.
Alliance Party Botanic Councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown called on the organisers to cancel the event.
“It’s illegal to smoke cannabis and it’s particularly dangerous to do so in a public place,” he said.
“Clearly the organisers of the event should reflect on whether it’s responsible to invite people out in this way for this purpose.
“I will be reporting the event to both the police and Belfast City Council so they are aware of it.
“I think the best thing for the organisers to do would be to cancel the event.
Peadar Robinson, founder of Legalise Cannabis – Northern Ireland said the event was nothing new.
“There have been multiple public cannabis events in this country,” he said.
“It’s an ever growing movement to help normalise the usage of cannabis in an attempt to remove the stigma attached towards its users.
“Some of the patients we have worked alongside will be there and we continue to support anyone who is willing to speak out on their behalf to help them acquire their much needed medication through legal or alternative means.”
Mr Robinson said police had turned a blind eye to such events in the past.
“We are not criminals, we are people, we are sick and tired of hiding our medical usage of cannabis when the governments know all too well it needs rescheduling.
“There will be many more events just like this, the last one at Stormont was overseen by police but they decided to let us continue to peacefully exercise our rights.”
A similar event is also planned for Derry’s Guildhall Square which hosted a public cannabis smoking event on April 20 last year with a heavy police presence.
One person was arrested at the event which was attended by around 200 people.