CANNABIS campaigners from across the region have joined up as part of an international protest calling for legalisation of the drug.

The ‘420’ event, held in Durham City, saw pro-cannabis activists come together to meet each other, smoke and listen to speakers on the subject of legalisation of the Class B drug.

It was the first time the annual event had been held in Durham and was organised by cannabis clubs across the region.

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Simpa, who did not give his surname, founded the Durham City Cannabis Club last year. He said: “We’ve had a few other events but this the biggest and it’s the first one with all the cannabis clubs working together.

“We’ve been trying to work together to maximise the audience who can see the benefits of cannabis. It’s a great community, it’s almost a family atmosphere.

“Durham is a liberal place so it’s growing and getting out to a wider audience.”

He added: “Prohibition doesn’t work. It’s an outdated and draconian system that doesn’t work. We want to dispel the stigma and propaganda that surrounds cannabis and its consumption.”

The 420 movement, which dates back to the 1960s, is celebrated by the cannabis community with worldwide protests every April 20.

Around eight or nine 420 event were planned around the UK, with hundreds more taking place worldwide.

Durham’s event included guest speakers, information stalls and entertainment.

Organiser George Hope, vice-chair of the Wear Valley Cannabis Club, said: “With 420 events, or any cannabis events, the atmosphere is always welcoming and there’s a real sense of community. There are never any problems. We try to come across the best that we can.”

He added: “These events don’t necessarily change the Government’s mind but it does normalise it for people. That’s what we want to do. We want to show cannabis users are not typical druggies and we are a responsible group.”

Despite being heralded as a champion of their cause, County Durham and Darlington’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg rejected an invite from organisers to speak at the event.

In 2015, Mr Hogg attracted national attention when he told The Northern Echo that Durham Constabulary would not proactively target cannabis users.