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This day in crime history: On July 24, 1967, a controversial full-page ad appeared in the London Times supporting the legalization of marijuana use. Sixty-four signatures were on the ad, including the four members of the Beatles. Parliament members, British dignitaries, physicians, clergymen, numerous writers, artists and a Nobel laureate scientist also gave their signatures.
But, the Beatles didn’t just sign the petition. They paid for it. It was a response to a 9-month prison sentence for marijuana possession given to John Hopkins, a British photographer, journalist and co- founder of the magazine International Times.
The “ad” explained why marijuana should not be a criminal offense. It began with the bold statement: “The law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice.”
It cited medical opinions that stated “that cannabis is the least harmful of pleasure-giving drugs, and is, in particular, far less harmful than alcohol.” The ad called upon the British government to remove cannabis from the list of dangerous drugs and make possession punishable by a fine, permit the use of cannabis in private premises, release everyone imprisoned for marijuana possession and allow scientific research into cannabis.
That petition had long lasting effects. It sparked a discussion and it is credited for helping to lower the penalty for possession of marijuana from a maximum of 10 years to a maximum of 5 years of jail time.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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