The great and the good take a second pot shot: Twenty-five years after an advert in the Times called for cannabis to be legalised, people are signing a new petition. Edward Welsh reports
Sunday 19 July 1992
The great and the good were responding to a request from Release, the drugs and legal advice agency, to sign a petition calling for the legalisation of cannabis. It will appear as a full-page advertisement in the Times on Friday.
The petition, which claims that the ban on cannabis has 'promoted criminality, conflict and more harm to the individual and society than its use' will mark the 25th anniversary of the publication of another petition in the Times declaring that 'the law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice'.
Release is still waiting to hear whether Paul McCartney, who put up the pounds 1,800 to pay for the original advert, will sign again.
All those who put their names to the 1967 petition and are still alive have been asked to sign. But some no longer wish to be associated with the cause.
Release believes that, despite a greater acceptance of cannabis smoking, people are still worried about coming out in favour of lifting the ban. Mike Goodman, the charity's director, said that some might be concerned that their careers would be blighted.
However, the careers of David Dimbleby and Kenneth Tynan did not seem to be damaged by signing the original. Nor does being caught smoking pot seem to put other public figures on the dole for good.
Neither McCartney nor Mick Jagger have lost public esteem. But cannabis and the world of showbusiness have a long history. In 1948, the film star Robert Mitchum was given a year's suspended sentence after being caught with a 'reefer' in Laurel Canyon. At the time he said: 'Sure I've been using the stuff since I was a kid. I guess it's all over now. I'm ruined.' He went on to make about 60 films.
John Wayne was a fellow user - but only once. 'It didn't do anything for me.'
The careers of the cricketer Ian Botham and the snooker player John Virgo did not suffer much after it was revealed they had smoked cannabis. Botham was suspended from first-class cricket for eight weeks in 1986. Virgo is no longer chairman of snooker's ruling body but continues to play.
Judge Clarence Thomas faced gruelling questioning from the US Senate before he could take up his appointment to the Supreme Court last year. But his opponents were more concerned about allegations, later to prove unfounded, of sexual harassment than his admitted use of cannabis at law school.
Judge Douglas Ginsburg was not so lucky. Ronald Reagan's nominee for the Supreme Court in 1987 was forced to withdraw when it was revealed he had enjoyed pot as a Harvard law professor. His near-namesake, the beat poet Allen Ginsberg, suffered no such indignity after publicly praising its benefits. Even American presidents do not appear to have to worry too much. George Washington grew the marijuana plant - hemp - on his estate. But that was for manufacturing rope.
Bill Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, has admitted that he used cannabis while at Oxford in the 1960s, but he declared: 'I didn't like it, and I didn't inhale and I never tried it again.' His running mate, Al Gore, went one better - he did inhale. It remains to be seen whether the smoke will cloud their election prospects.
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Doctors remove 80 teeth from boy's jaw
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Germany and ECB set for fight over money-printing
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing
The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
Syrian teenager Usaid Barho reveals how he escaped from Isis using a suicide vest
Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...