Cannabis picnic move to Portsmouth family event branded ‘socially irresponsible’

The Smokey Bears Picnic on Southsea Common ''Picture:  Malcolm Wells (150711-6737)
The Smokey Bears Picnic on Southsea Common ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (150711-6737)
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  • Smokey Bear’s Picnic made a comeback after 13 years
  • But at the last minute organisers moved it to family event
  • Parents and police unhappy with people trying to smoke nearby
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PARENTS and police have criticised people at a cannabis picnic who moved the event to a family-run music day.

Smokey Bear’s Picnic had been billed to return to Southsea Common on Saturday but organisers on Facebook changed the meeting point to Castle Field.

Angie with Grant Taylor(150711-6702)

Angie with Grant Taylor(150711-6702)

That meant the handful of people who were heading to Smokey Bear’s Picnic – the first to be held since 2002 – moved to the same place the city-council backed bandstand event was being held.

Sgt Rob Sutton was with four PCs policing the cannabis event.

He said: ‘If those families here knew that there’s a group here trying to smoke cannabis, there would be uproar.

‘It’s socially irresponsible, there are hundreds of people trying to enjoy themselves.’

If those families here knew that there’s a group here trying to smoke cannabis, there’d be uproar

Sgt Rob Sutton

Organisers behind the cannabis event had previously painted ‘white monkey head’ graffiti on cabinets as meeting points but the change was announced on Facebook in the afternoon.

Emma Herbert, 30, from Stamshaw was with her seven-year-old son at the bandstand and was unhappy with people from the cannabis picnic turning up.

She said: ‘I don’t think it’s really good around children. It would be different if it was adults only but around children I don’t agree. You don’t know how it affects them.’

Dean Holman, 29, was with his 11-month-old son Brax and three-year-old daughter Miczie at the bandstand, which was being held at Castle Field.

Ben Wright (150711-6708)

Ben Wright (150711-6708)

He added: ‘I don’t think it’s right, it’s a family event. If you had kids you don’t want that around here.’

Smokey Bear’s Picnic was relaunched after last year’s cannabis awareness picnic was held in Castle Field, with the United Patients Alliance and Hampshire Cannabis Community arguing for the legalisation of the class B drug. That event will be held on August 16.

Mike Race, bandstand event co-ordinator, said: ‘I don’t mind people doing what they want but when it’s a public event they shouldn’t really be jeopardising the event for everybody else. They should’ve gone somewhere else.’

But Grant Taylor, 30, from Southsea, who was at Smokey Bear’s, said not many had shown up. He said: ‘It’s just a shame the police presence quelled it.

Ben Wright, 25, from Southsea, added: ‘We’re not smoking, no-one is smoking here.’

‘It wasn’t a gathering to get high it was more of a gathering for social awareness.’