Hundreds of people are taking part in a pro-cannabis protest in Leeds today after council bosses failed with a legal bid to stop the event going ahead.
Leeds City Council sought an injunction as a “preventative measure” after being made aware of plans to hold the Cannabis 420 rally on Woodhouse Moor this afternoon.
The council’s application for the injunction was turned down at a hearing at Leeds County Court on Wednesday.
Documents submitted to the court on behalf of the council said many people would go to the event intending to “engage in the consumption and supply of controlled drugs”.
Council officers said a similar demo held on Woodhouse Moor last year attracted around 2,000 protesters.
The rally is one of a number of Cannabis 420 legalisation events taking place around the world today.
Gatherings in Leeds and other British cities are being co-ordinated by a campaign group called United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs.
The group today said that Leeds’s injunction bid was the first time any local authority in the country had tried to “impose” legal action against a cannabis protest.
United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs chairman Greg de Hoedt said: “In other parts of the country, the councils and the police work directly with the cannabis communities to ensure that the public and the protesters have a safe day where everyone’s freedoms are protected.”
He added: “We hope this situation means that Leeds City Council can have a more approachable and constructive dialogue with local cannabis campaigners in the future.”
The council today said it had gone to court after unsuccessful attempts to “open a dialogue” with the people behind the event.
A spokeswoman for the local authority said it wanted assurances that the organisers had “considered and shown due diligence regarding the safety and management of those who may be attending”.
Commenting on the rally, West Yorkshire Police’s Chief Insp Simon Jessup this afternoon said officers had been deployed to patrol what he described as the “local vicinity”.