This year saw the largest number of 420 events ever in the UK with around 16 events taking place over the Easter bank holiday weekend. There was 420 gatherings in Leeds, Manchester, Swansea, Glasgow, Nottingham, Bath, Belfast and with the largest being, as usual London’s Hyde park which this year attracted an estimated 40,000 cannabis consumers.

There were once again no arrests made at any of the British 420 events, further evidence that as British politicians have articulated it that the police are decriminalising cannabis via the back door by dramatically reducing the number of arrests for cannabis. We’ll frankly its about time that someone does and it doesn’t look like it’ll be Westminster anytime soon.

Arrests for Cannabis possession are down dramatically over the last decade by as much as 75% in some regions of the UK. Arrests for cannabis cultivation are also down by over half since 2012.

This is partly down to the great work of individuals such as Durham Police crime and victim commissioner Ron Hogg and Durham’s Chief Constabulary Mike Barton who in 2015 started the countries first drug check point scheme. The scheme is designed to divert drug consumers and other low level offenders from prison.

This has since evolved into county Durham having one of the most relaxed approaches to drug policy in the country, especially cannabis which has officially been deprioritised by the region’s constabulary. It is also worth noting that the force has been ranked outstanding by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) every year since enacting this policy and that Ron Hogg was elected with a higher mandate for his second term off the back of these kinds of policies. Durham constabulary is now currently the only one to hold such a prestigious designation.

This makes it the perfect place to host a new kind of 420 celebration. Instead of commandeering a corner of a public park, farmers field, beach or other location this year Durham City Cannabis Club decided to attempt a rather ambitious and unique approach to celebrating 420 and UK cannabis culture.

DCCC were lucky enough to be able to secure the rather luxurious and picturesque Bowburn hall hotel and its 5-acre walled garden for this years canna-gathering in Durham. The weather on the day was spectacular with not a single cloud in sight. Guests enjoyed the venues woodlands seeking shade cast by the many trees that populated the venues beautiful walled gardens while enjoying a variety of edibles, concentrates and flowers.

This years Durham 420 combined an educational seminar zone and a chill out zone with hot food and drink in the shape of a coffee stall, a hog roast and vegan food van as well as a myriad of market stalls from around the UK. There was a dozen or so stalls selling everything from handmade pots at the Ragpots stall to the vast selection of wares from Budsy’s best and The Hempress UK’s CBD bath bombs and cosmetics.

Inside the hotels newly refurbished function room was the 160 seater educational seminar zone which included guest speakers from all sides of the cannabis community. There were activists, advocates, mothers of sick children, academics and even a Doctor who is treating her own cancer with cannabis.

These speakers included presentations by Sarah Davis and Nottingham University politics professor Sue Pryce who gave a presentation on how the war on drugs and prohibitive policies actually increase the rate of which drugs are consumed in society.

The panels were populated by Sarah Martin, Trev Coleman, Simpa Carter (Myself), Tom Hardcastle, the above mentioned Dr Carol Coombes OBE, Callie and Deryn Blackwell – who spoke together on the same stage for the first time at a UK cannabis event. Mike Wise of the The Mike Wise Show and the living legend that is Mr Lee Harris without whom none of us would be able to do what we do.

As well as Tannine Montgomery and Geraldine Woodman two mothers who are both desperately fighting for their children to have access to quality cannabis oil to treat their epileptic children. Tannine’s daughter Indie-rose and Geraldine’s son Eddie shouldn’t have to continue to suffer because their government remains wilfully ignorant while profiting from the cultivation and prescribing of cannabis.

We had representatives from The Loop a local drug testing organisation who do drug testing at music festivals. Although they were unable to do any testing on the day they still were in attendance to provide education and information to the guests about harm reduction and safe consumption of all substances. We also had a live glass blowing demonstration from British glass blower Established Glass who you may already know for his awesome anonymous/V for vendetta mask pendants.

Durham 420 Main Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9Kg9pc8SsU&t=2s

This was the first event that DCCC has had at a private venue and it will not be our last. The picturesque walled gardens and stunning hotel of Bowburn Hall really made the day such a great success. DCCC cannot thank them enough for their trust and support in hosting this first of its kind event.

Finally, DCCC would like to thank our main sponsors Hydropro and Seedsman and our seminar sponsors the original alternative and Ebuz, our official organic partner Biobizz as well as Weedworld magazine and Super CBDX seeds for sponsoring the event.

We will be back later in the year with another event and you’ll be glad to know we’ve already started planning next years Durham 420!

By Simpa