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NOT GUILTY for Green Candidate Charged Over Cannabis Carnival!

Balham Magistrates today found Shane Collins 'not guilty' over licensing violations at the Clapham Common Cannabis Carnival on May Day 1999. The charge was that on May Day Mr Collins 'permitted dancing and amplified music' on May Day without an entertainment's licence.

Shane Collins, prospective Green London Assembly Candidate said "The Magistrates agreed that the dancing and music was ancillary to the May Day Cannabis Carnival. This was held to protest at the continued prohibition of one of natures most useful plants and the criminalisation of thousands of people for medical and recreational use. Scores of people worked, unpaid, for six months to bring this event together. In a sane society we might be applauded, instead the Council has wasted taxpayers' money to prosecute me for our efforts. We now look forward to working with the Council to put on the Cannabis Carnival 2000 this May 6th with a march from Kennington Park and a Carnival in Brockwell Park, Brixton'.

Lambeth Council officers gave evidence on 9th December. Interestingly it emerged that officers observed that, on May Day out of a crowd of 10-15,000 a mere 30-40 people were dancing. Today Mr Collins and four co-organisers gave evidence. It was argued that the dancing and music were ancillary to the event. Mr Collins was awarded costs of two travelcards. The cost to the Council, (and the people of Lambeth) of the two day trial is estimated at £12,000.

The free event, last May 1st, which was attended by 10 - 15,000 people, passed peacefully with no arrests, no sound violations and no complaints from local residents, (many of whom were at the event). The Council commented favourably on the litter clear up, which was organised by Mr Collins.

The London Cannabis March and Carnival is planned for Saturday May 6th 2000. There is a planned march from Kennington Park to Brockwell Park for the Cannabis Carnival 2000


Archive: earlier press release:

Don't stop the carnival!
May Day festival organiser charged by Lambeth Council
30th Sept 1999

Shane Collins will be defending community rights in South Western Magistrates Court tomorrow following a summons by Lambeth Council. Mr. Collins is the joint-organiser of the highly successful May Day Cannabis Festival that entertained thousands earlier this year on Clapham Common.

There were months of work and negotiations with Lambeth Council and the Police in the run up to May Day. Despite this it was only three weeks before the event that the Entertainments' Licence application for the Cannabis Free Festival was rejected. Three sound systems and five stages were subsequently cancelled.

The event, which was attended by 15,000 children and adults, was entirely peaceful with no arrests, no sound level violations or complaints from local residents. The council commended the organisers for their litter clear up operation.


Mr. Collins has expressed disgust at the Councils decision to charge him: "This was a free event to protest at the continued prohibition of one of nature's most useful plants. It highlighted the way that the law criminalises thousands of people who use Cannabis for medicinal and recreational activities. The organisers worked, unpaid, for six-months to bring this festival off. Anywhere sane we would be applauded, instead of which Lambeth is wasting Council Taxpayers money to prosecute me for arranging for the community to have a good time.

"These proceedings are an attempt to criminalise low key music and dancing at community events and I believe that it is possibly politically motivated."

The Labour Party has repeatedly attacked the Green Party's calls for sensible objective debate surrounding the use of drugs, which includes the legalisation of Cannabis.



Editor's Notes.
  • Maximum sentence for the licensing violations are 6 months prison and 20,000 pounds fine.
  • The Cannabis May Day 1999 marches took place in 38 cities around the world and was organised by the International Cannabis Coalition (ICC), of which the Green Party is a part.

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