SUPPORTERS of a fast-growing global drugs movement have pledged to plant cannabis at every well known landmark in the North-East.
The illegal substance is already flourishing at well-known landmarks including London’s Tower Bridge, The Shard and Big Ben after the sites were targeted by pro-cannabis group Feed the Birds.
Cannabis clubs across the North-East have now vowed to work together in a bid to grow the drug around well-known sites such as The Angel of the North, Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge, The Bottle of Notes and Tyne Bridge.
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The project – which operates world-wide and has thousands of followers – was established by a farmer, a psychiatrist and a barrister in a bid to decriminalise the drug and take it out of the hands of drug dealers and pharmaceutical companies.
Founder Finn Hemingway – giving his first interview exclusively to The Northern Echo - said the organisation is driven by the needs of medicinal users who are often criminalised for their personal use.
According to Mr Hemingway, the wild grows in public places create a visual form of protest against prohibition, while making a medicinal strain of the drug freely available for those struggling to cope with symptoms of conditions including cancer, HIV and MS.
Feed the Birds also freely distribute thousands of seeds and lighting kits to users across the world.
Mr Hemingway said: “We’ve been doing this for years under a media blackout and we’ve grown everywhere you can imagine.
“This isn’t original, it’s a return to the days before prohibition and we don’t take much notice of whether it’s legal or not.
“We’re not here to convert people and we won’t benefit anybody ramming our message down throats.
“But anything we can do to stop people suffering, we’ll do it and cannabis is proven to help people with illnesses like cancer, arthritis and HIV.
“By helping medical users, we can get them away from low quality cannabis and dealers and make them self-sufficient.
“They’re not taking it out of choice, they’re taking it because it’s the only thing that works for them and they’re being criminalised.
“We don’t support a black market and want people to be able to get away from dealers and reliance on prescription medicine.
“People are ending up in court and with criminal records for trying to heal themselves.
“If you can look at people suffering and sleep at night, good for you but I can’t and had to do something about it.”
A spokeswoman from Cleveland Police confirmed cannabis had been found at the Bottle of Notes in Middlesbrough and said: “It’s not illegal to own or distribute seeds but it’s illegal to grow cannabis.
“If it’s reported to us that an individual is growing cannabis outdoors, we will investigate but in cases like this, it would be very difficult to pinpoint who that cannabis belonged to.”
Cleveland police and crime commissioner Barry Coppinger added: "Tackling illegal drug misuse and dealing remains a priority as as I hear first hand from our communities the harm it causes users and the neighbourhoods.
"Cultivation of cannabis, which is a Class C drug, is illegal. Our central drugs enforcement team has seen some real success in terms of identifying and disrupting cannabis farms in recent months and I would like to commend their efforts and commitment."