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

THE BARRISTER Michael Mansfield and Professor Hans Eysenck have signed. So have Wendy Savage, Tom Robinson, Julie Christie and more than 100 other lawyers, doctors, journalists and household names. Marjorie Proops at first said yes then changed her mind. Jonathan Aitken and Brian Walden declined.

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.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?