‘GROW your own and weed out the dealers’, was the message from cannabis activists pushing for legalisation at an event in the region this weekend.

The weekend saw hundreds of campaigners from across the UK descend on Redcar for the second annual pro-cannabis rally, organised by the Teesside Cannabis Club (TCC).

The event passed without trouble or police presence – a sign, say organisers, of changing attitudes towards use of the class-B drug.

Following the event, John Holiday – founder of TCC – called once again for the regulation and decriminalisation of cannabis.

The rally followed a week of heated national debate sparked by Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Hogg who told The Northern Echo that Durham Constabulary would no longer proactively target cannabis users.

Backing Mr Hogg’s stance, Mr Holiday said a change in the law to allow for small-scale cultivation would save police resources and help to destroy the black market.

He said: “The authorities turned a blind eye to our event and we caused no problems at all.

“Yes, people were smoking cannabis but there were no other drugs and it was an alcohol free event with no arrests at all.

“There’s still a social stigma about cannabis but generally people are more open about their use and there’s no stereotype, all kinds of people use it.

“These people are forced to mix with crowds that are causing real problems and they’re having to take drugs that aren’t regulated or checked, anything could be in them.

“The sensible approach would be to allow users to grow about four plants and in about a month street level dealing would be wiped out.

“It would damage the criminal gangs if everyone was allowed to grow their own – these are the people who are growing commercially, making a business out of it and trafficking kids.

“It’s the safest option and if the community’s growing their own, the black market dealers will be pushed out.”

Previously, North-East drugs charity Addiction said relaxing the law around the cultivation and consumption of cannabis would make little difference to those harmed by its use.

The organisation’s spokesman, Simon Stephens, said: “Cannabis is still implicated in psychosis and mental health problems so from our perspective, legal or illegal makes no difference – it can be detrimental to health just like alcohol."

A recent poll of The Northern Echo’s readers found 91 per cent in favour of relaxing cannabis laws.