Cannabis cafe chains to open
David Bamber and Rajeev Syal, The Sunday Telegraph,Sunday 21 Juli 2002
Two Dutch cannabis cafe chains plan to open up to 50 ventures in Britain in a full-frontal assault on the police's ability to enforce drug laws.
Following the announcement by David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, that cannabis will be downgraded from a class B to a class C drug next year, the firms - The Bulldog and Dutch Experience - are planning to open cafes in an attempt to force acceptance of the drug.
The owner of the Bulldog, Henk de Vries, knows nothing about this whatsoever, I asked him!
I know nothing of ‘my’plans to open a chain of cannabisshops in the UK!
The cafes would be illegal even under the new classification. The owners point out, however, that their businesses are also technically illegal in Amsterdam, but their success has forced a change in policy which allows them to operate freely.
The backers believe that in Britain, too, the police will be so overwhelmed by the number of ventures - and their popularity - that they would be forced to allow them to remain open.
The two chains, which between them run 20 cafes in Holland, are both planning to launch in Britain. In addition, a string of independent cafes is also likely to open within the next year.
While police are adamant that they will not allow cannabis to be sold over the counter, websites for the two businesses already boast of their UK expansion plans.
The Bulldog concern consists of 4 coffeeshops, a budgethotel and a number of bars. My concern, Willie Wortel, consists of 3 coffeeshops, 4 + 3 = 7! Nothing about it on our websites: www.bulldog.nl or www.williewortel.org
One British man who is interested in running a Dutch-style coffee shop under franchise, said: "As long as these shops do not provoke the police, I think they will eventually accept them."
He said: "Even in Holland they are technically illegal, but they are allowed to operate unhindered."
Many Dutch cannabis cafes started by allowing cannabis to be smoked and gradually progressed to selling the drug. It is likely the British cafes will at first also limit themselves to providing premises for cannabis to be smoked and will not sell the substance.
Under Mr Blunkett's proposals, personal possession of cannabis will be made a non-arrestable offence, although dealing would attract a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
Among the sites being looked at by the Dutch chains and independent businessmen are premises in Bournemouth, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cumbria, Liverpool, Chester, Bath, Rhyl, Milton Keynes, Braintree, Brighton, Taunton, and Lambeth in London.
The movement to open a chain of shops in Britain has taken its inspiration from the independent Dutch Experience in Stockport, Britain's first cannabis cafe, which opened in September. It has been raided by police three times but is still open and attracts around 200 people a day.
I happen to be the co-founder and sponsor of the Stockport Dutch Experience, so I know where the inspiration for this project comes from! Where do you two get your inspiration from?
Willie Wortel's Sinsemilla, a cannabis cafe in the Dutch town of Haarlem, has already begun to offer British would-be cafe entrepreneurs a course in running such a venture.
Twenty people paid £575 each for a five-day course in May. Jeff Ditchfield, who attended the course, has sold his transport business in Rhyl, north Wales, and bought a cafe in the town which he hopes to open soon.
David Crane, the director of an internet company for seven years, is in the process of raising £250,000 for an "upmarket" cafe in Hoxton, east London.
As well as Stockport, there have been several other abortive attempts to open cannabis cafes.
In Dorset, police arrested four men in April after they allegedly opened a cannabis cafe, called The Dutch Experience 2, in a warehouse in Bournemouth. The cafe remains open and sells teas, coffees and cannabis paraphernalia.
I had to respond to this article:
Haarlem, 22 July 2002.
To David Bamber and Rajeev Syal,
I am amazed about the article of last Sunday’s mail, in wich you state that I am going to open a chain of cannabis café’s in the UK, amongst others.
You make it look as if I cooperated in this article, wich I did not, and I never intended to open a chain of cannabiscafes, nor do I have that intent for the future.
I have added some comments on your article, to point out where you are not quite correct.
Could you please explain to me why you published this ?
Nol van Schaik.
Owner of 3 Willie Wortel cannabisshops in Haarlem, the Netherlands.
Co-founder of the Dutch Experience Cannabicafe in Stockport, UK.
Organiser of the Coffeeshop College in Haarlem, Global Hempmuseum.
Stockport goes Dutch
Ryan Dilley, BBC News Online, Wednesday 24 Jul 2002
Dutch entrepreneurs are preparing to test the UK's soft drug laws by opening up to 50 cannabis cafes. But there is already one such British establishment defying the police... in Stockport.
The opening of a so-called cannabis cafe in Stockport last September seems not to have caused the drab town on the outskirts of Manchester to descend into reefer madness.
Despite the media attention surrounding an establishment which openly flouts UK drug laws by allowing its customers to consume marijuana, many locals are unaware of its exact location.
"I've worked here for eight month and have never found it," says one manstanding, as it happens, just a few hundreds yards from The Dutch Experience.
Close by a council flower planter boasting a few (unsmokeable) errant hemp leaves, a group of teenagers is even less help. Their ignorance of the cafe seems to suggest the town's youth are barely interested in - let alone being corrupted by - their proximity to soft drugs.
While not signposted, The Dutch Experience turns out to be no secretive drug den.
Situated in a cobbled arcade, the cafe's neighbours include a hairdressers, a jewellery shop and a fitness centre, where sandwiches can be ordered by those hungry for something more substantial than thecafe's crisps and chocolate bars.
Caffeine and cannabis
Inside the air is not exactly heavy with the odour of hashish. In factthe smell of instant coffee seems to be winning the day.
The serious smoking takes place in a members' room, into which you can only enter once you have provided two photos, shown your passport and signed a declaration that you are "not in anyway a police officer or informant of the police".
The form is useless in any legal sense, but is an act of defiance for a place raided three times by the local constabulary and whose creator, medicinal cannabis advocate Colin Davies, is in Strangeways Prison for his troubles.
Despite this, at least three customers are waiting in the public cafe to join up, the whole process of filling forms and issuing laminated cards going as efficiently as can be expected from a business conducted in a dope haze.
Softly softly approach
The walls are covered with graffiti, mainly variations on the theme "weed is good".
Any spare space is given over to "Free Colin Davies" posters, a photo of Mr Davies giving the Queen a bouquet laced with hemp leaves and a picture of Brian Paddick - the London police officer who pioneered leniency towards soft drug use.
Stacked beside the stereo are exactly the sort of CDs you'd expect to be on heavy rotation. Bob Marley, The Chemical Brothers, Bob Dylan... and er, Chris Rea.
Berry - a young clog-wearing Dutchman who once guided tourists around Amsterdam's government-tolerated cannabis coffee shops - says the 1,200-strong clientele doesn't really fit the stoner stereotype.
"This place is busier than any coffee shop I've ever seen in Amsterdam. In the day it's mainly medicinal users - people in wheelchairs and on crutches. We have the suits popping in at lunchtime. Then at night it's a bit more recreational - nurses, teachers, that sort of person. Our youngest member is 18, the oldest 90-something."
Berry is keen to stress the cafe's service to those who say their use of cannabis eases the symptoms of serious illness. "We have people with cancer, Aids, multiple sclerosis - not drug scene people at all. It's criminal that the government makes them go to street dealers who sell
harder drugs too."
Pot for pain
Though many of today's smokers are fit and healthy (though hardly bright-eyed) young men, Caroline - who smokes because of a crippling spinal problem - backs up Berry's argument.
"I was always dead against cannabis. I even shopped my son to the police when I found out he'd taken it. But now it's the only thing that lets me get out of my wheelchair and walk with my crutches."
Caroline says she doesn't mind sharing the cafe with recreational users. "As a woman, I wouldn't go into a pub alone. Here I feel comfortable. We're a community that looks after one another."
The community spirit doesn't extend to the cafe's landlord - who is said not to be keen on his outlaw tenant and is no longer cashing the rent cheques. So what do the neighbours think of The Dutch Experience?
Hardly a tourist Mecca, the cafe has at least raised Stockport's profile.
"We had lots of enquires by phone and in person when the cafe was first in the news," says a woman from the nearby tourist information office.
Further upwind from the pungent extractor fan which services the cafe's members' room, one shopkeeper professes to not understanding what all the fuss is about.
"They're no trouble. You get some people hanging around, but they're too spaced out to cause any trouble."
To all media :
Dutch Citizen Accused in Cannabis Case Is Being Treated With Unprecedented Harshness by the UK Government. Estimates of Cost of Prosecution Already Exceeded A Million Pounds!
July 24, 2002
Bart Meekel, a Dutch citizen, who was arrested on July 1st, is being held without bail after being charged with possession of cannabis with intent to supply, simply for being in the flat of Colin Davies.
Davies is owner of the Dutch
Experience, the UK’s first Dutch-style "coffee shop" and the UK’s foremost
Meekel is being held despite the fact that UK citizens arrested at the Dutch Experience, some of them also charged with possession with intent to supply, involving around 1400 grams of cannabis, were released on bail previously. This shows that Meekel is being discriminated against as a person and for his nationality.
The only reason for Meekel’s arrest was his presence in Colin Davies’ flat, which was raided because Davies was breaking his bail conditions, which forbade him to go to his own home! Davies went to his flat because he was unable to travel because of an injection of morphine, earlier that day, to treat the agonising pain caused by a severe spinal injury.
Friends believe that Davies was betrayed by his housemaster, who was probably forced into doing so by the Greater Manchester Police. Their suspicions are based on the fact that the GMP previously compelled the manager of a Stockport hotel to monitor the hotel room of Dutch Experience co-founder Nol van Schaik for the smell of cannabis and report him to the police. Van Schaik, who had stayed at the hotel previously without problems was arrested there for possession of a very small amount of cannabis.
Following his arrest Meekel was released on bail, and promised to come back to the Stockport Police Station on July 11, 2002, for an interview about the matter, which he did. However, when he reported to the Stockport Police Station, as ordered, he was charged and arrested, and locked up, to face the Magistrates the next morning, where he could appeal for bail. His bail was refused, so he was remanded in custody, and taken to prison in Liverpool.
Had he wanted to flee he easily could have gone to Holland, but he chose to stand up for his rights. His last chance for bail was this morning, when his British solicitor applied for his release before the Judge in Chambers. The Judge refused bail, saying that that Meekel might re-offend, so he had to be held in custody, even though he is a first offender and was willing to go to Holland to await his trial.
A Dutch lawyer who will represent Meekel, is currently looking into the case, in order to take the matter to the European Court, on the grounds of discrimination by the Stockport Magistrates and the GMP. Before working in coffee shops in Holland, Meekel worked as a certified security-guard, which means he has no criminal record in Holland whatsoever. Meekel is also a medical cannabis user. He has successfully treated himself with cannabis for arthritis pain, and for four years he has been able to avoid the use of dangerous pharmaceuticals.
Actions against this outrage are being organised for next Friday, in the UK and the Netherlands simultaneously.On Friday, July 26th, Dutch protesters are expected to demonstrate in front of the UK Embassy the Hague opposing discrimination against Dutch nationals in the UK and to demand Meekel’s and Davies’ release.
Davies is also being held without bail as a result of claims that he was violating the terms of his release, and now the new trial date for Davies and Meekel is set for April, 2003. This means that Meekel, who has no criminal record, will be held for ten months, without having ever been convicted of any crime!
On July 10th, the Prime Minister’s wife, Cherie Blair, a prominent UK attorney in her own right, said that "It is particularly worrying that more than one in six of the current prison population is on remand – in other words they have yet to be tried or sentenced. In fact, the majority of this group doesn't ultimately go on to receive a prison sentence."The Home Office reported earlier this month that UK prison system is now full and they are contemplating releasing prisoners accused of violent crimes – apparently to make room for people accused of the crime of supplying cannabis to the sick and dying.
To make matters more bizarre, through all of this, the Dutch Experience has remained open, providing a safe place for medical and recreational cannabis users.This is happening at a time when the UK government is rescheduling cannabis, promising medical access to "cannabis-based" drugs, and struggling with over crowded prisons. Prior to these delays and the addition of Meekel to the case, it had been estimated that the arrest, incarceration, and prosecution of Davies and the UK citizens would cost the UK over one million pounds. That amount seems likely to at least double!
Today the UK media are reporting that Britain's emergency services lack the resources to cope with a large scale terrorist attack like that of September 11th. In a scathing report, The Commons Defence Committee said that there are "real deficiencies" in the ability of the civil authorities to deal with a major terrorist attack. Fire and ambulance crews do not have the equipment and training to cope with a chemical, biological or nuclear attack.
On July 12th, The Telegraph said in an editorial, "The facts recorded by the police tell their own story: overall crime up seven per cent, muggings up by a third, the clear-up rate down to less than a quarter. Behind these raw statistics are concealed countless tales of human misery. By some measures, Britain now has the worst crime rate in the Western world."
On February 28th, The Guardian reported "The spiralling cost of alcohol misuse is ‘paralysing’ the National Health Service and will push the health service into collapse unless the problem is tackled urgently, according to alcohol experts." It said that the charity Alcohol Concern found that alcohol misuse is costing the NHS up to £3bn a year, causing more than 28,000 hospital admissions.
Alcohol is implicated in 33,000 deaths a year - a 33% rise since 1984. One in six people attending accident and emergency units has alcohol-related injuries or problems, it found. Some 25% of acute male admissions to hospital relate to alcohol while over 5,000 people a year die in England and Wales as a direct result of drink, it states. The situation is so bad that Dr Chris Luke of Cork University Hospital warned that the NHS will collapse unless lifestyle issues such as alcohol are tackled.
"The NHS is on the brink of collapse and it is hard to argue otherwise. Health professionals are in a state of despair," said Dr Luke. "Alcohol accounts for one in four acute male admissions and therefore is an incredibly important issue for the NHS. Alcohol typifies overload in the NHS." Nonetheless, the Blair government seems to have unlimited funds to persecute those whom they think are embarrassing them over their incoherent cannabis policies.On Monday, Prime Minister Blair finally ordered an investigation into alcohol abuse. He supposedly asked his "strategy unit" to carry out a study into alcohol misuse looking at the problems of alcohol-related crime and anti-social behavior.
The Prime Minister should also order an investigation into why scarce resources are being used to persecute medical cannabis users and to discriminate Dutch citizens.
For info and details:
Maruska de Blaauw
0031 (0) 653666921 firstname.lastname@example.org
for more background info, see : www.dutchexperience.org
Controversial cannabis trial scrapped
Reuters, Thursday 25 Jul 2002
LONDON (Reuters) - A controversial "softly, softly" approach to cannabis possession trialled in south London will come to an end next week, police have announced.
The move, which marks the conclusion of a year-long pilot scheme in Lambeth means people caught smoking the drug in public will once again face arrest, a police spokesman said on Thursday.
"Where aggravating circumstances apply, officers will be able to exercise discretion over whether to arrest," acting commander of Lambeth police Brian Moore said.
The pilot-scheme was launched last year to free police to deal with more serious drug-related crime and has been hailed as a success by officers.
Under the trial, people caught with cannabis were given a verbal warning rather than facing an official caution or arrest.
However, there have been claims that the scheme has drawn people to Lambeth in order to buy and sell the drug without fear of arrest.
The decision to end the trial brings the borough in line with a new national approach to cannabis.
Earlier this month, Home Secretary David Blunkett announced that cannabis would be reclassified as a low risk in the face of a dramatic rise in its use.
Ironically, the new rules mean cannabis smokers in Lambeth, regarded as a "safe haven" during the past year, will face a greater chance of arrest than before the drug was downgraded.
While cannabis users will be able to smoke discreet amounts of the drug in private without fear of arrest, those caught openly smoking it in public will be taken into custody.
Police in Lambeth said on Thursday they would launch an advertising campaign to ensure the public were aware of the new regulations.
It will include leaflets in different languages handed out in public places and posted through letter boxes, and posters displayed in pubs and clubs.
"The aim of this campaign is to clearly explain to everyone in Lambeth that cannabis is illegal and will remain illegal," Moore said in a statement.
Cafe open for dope smoking
Jamie Diffley, ThisIsLancashire, Thursday 01 Aug 2002
A CAFE boss today sparked outrage by opening Lancashire's first Amsterdam-style coffee shop -- allowing customers to smoke cannabis.
David Wilson said he was openly defying the law and risking arrest by letting customers at his Real Jerk cafe and takeaway in Bolton Road, Ewood, Blackburn, use the drug.
But he said people had a right to smoke what they wanted.
Mr Wilson said no cannabis would be sold on the premises as customers would bring their own.
Blackburn MP and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw today urged Mr Wilson to rethink his plans while police said they would prosecute him for allowing cannabis to be used in his shop.
Ewood ward councillor Maureen Bateson said Mr Wilson was acting irresponsibly and encouraging drug use.
Last month Home Secretary David Blunkett announced plans to reclassify cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug, which would mean there would be no power of arrest for possession.
Offenders could be dealt with on the spot by police and warned, cautioned or reported for summons, although "aggravated" cases of cannabis smoking -- blatantly in front of a police officer for example - would still result in arrest.
Father-of-two Mr Wilson, 37, a pro-cannabis campaigner, who organized cannabis picnics in Corporation Park, said everybody had a right to smoke "God's herbs."
He said he would not allow under 18s to smoke in the cafe and admitted he expected the police to turn up at his doorstep.
Mr Wilson, who edits a cannabis magazine called Hybrid News, said: "I'm not scared because I think you shouldn't prosecute people for smoking a herb.
"It does no harm to anybody and people should be able to go a place which is cannabis friendly where they don't get hassle from the police."
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Smith, of Blackburn, said officers would not turn a blind eye to activities at the Real Jerk.
He said: "We would expect Mr Wilson to comply with the laws andlegislation and if they are breached, we would act accordingly.
"As far as I'm concerned, allowing your premises to be used for smoking cannabis is a criminal offence and we will be monitoring activities at the Real Jerk."
A spokesman for Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: "Jack deplores any effort to break the drugs law in his constituency or elsewhere."
The UK's first coffee shop opened in Stockport last year but was immediately closed after owner Colin Davies was arrested. A similar one is due to open in Rhyl, where Mr Wilson has just visited after speaking to the owners about its set-up.
The idea is borrowed from Amsterdam's "coffee shops" where cannabis users can buy and smoke the drug openly.
Although Mr Wilson, who has two young children, a daughter aged seven and a two-year-old boy, said he would not sell drugs on his premises he said he would help people with genuine medical reasons to obtain cannabis.
And he claimed he is causing no harm and is willing to meet protesters to put his side across.
"I am against hard drugs like heroin and crack cocaine and at no time will there be children smoking cannabis in this cafe. I have the interest of the community at heart and I know this will go
If parents want to talk about cannabis and want advice then they should come and ask for me and I will help them as much as possible."
Of the 120,000 people arrested for drugs in 1999, the latest Home Office statistics, 68 per cent were for the possession of cannabis.
Coun Maureen Bateson said: "I am not happy about this situation at all. I would hope that the police will be taking appropriate action which Iwould support. This is a public place and I think it's extremely irresponsible."
Keith Owen, manager for Blackburn-based drug agency Lifeline, said cannabis was very different from hard drugs such as heroin and crack-cocaine and welcomed the government's recent re-classifications plans.
But on the shop itself he said: "That is an issue for the police and trading standards.
"If people want cannabis they will get it, that's the issue."
Eire: Ireland Tops Euro League For Illegal Drug Use
Cormac O'Keeffe, Irish Examiner (Ireland), Thursday 01 Aug 2002
IRELAND has the highest levels of ecstasy and amphetamine use in western Europe, according to a UN report. The study, Global Illicit Trends 2002, estimates 66,000 (2.4%) people aged 15 and over take ecstasy at least once a year.
The report estimates that 72,000 (2.6%) people take amphetamines, commonly known as speed.
The UN study found, of the 23 countries in western Europe, Ireland also has the:
Joint highest use of cannabis, with Britain.
Third highest use of cocaine.
Joint ninth highest use of opiates, including heroin.
"The figures are quite frightening. We're at the top for drug use, along with Britain. It's a huge problem, equalled by the alcohol problem," said Grainne Kenny, of the lobby group Europe Against Drugs (Eurad).
A Government spokesman said last night they had not received the report but that progress was being made in fighting the scourge of drugs.
He said a national awareness campaign would get under way in the autumn aimed at educating children about drugs.
The report, carried out by the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, said Ireland's ecstasy and amphetamine use was four times the western European average of 0.6% and 0.7% respectively.
Britain also dominated drug leagues, topping cocaine use, cannabis use with Ireland and opiate use. Britain was second only to Ireland in ecstasy and amphetamine use.
Interestingly, given its name as the drugs capital of Europe, the Netherlands is 13th in the cannabis league (with an annual rate of 4.1%), fifth in the ecstasy league (at 0.8%) and 17th in the heroin league (at 0.2%).
The report noted while rates are high in Ireland, one European study, ESPAD, found that cannabis use among 15 to 16-year-olds here fell from 37% in 1995 to 32% in 1999, while other drug use fell from 16% to 9%.
The 285-page report also found heroin use had stabilised in Ireland and estimates 185 million people in the world take drugs.
Cannabis is used by 147 million people, amphetamine 33 million, ecstasy seven million, cocaine 13 million and 13 million opiates, including nine million heroin.
The report highlighted a 65% global fall in opium production following the Taliban ban on the growing of the plant in Afghanistan.
But it said opium production had resumed to a "relatively high level" this year. There was also a 5% fall in cocoa production, from which cocaine is made, in 2001, including the first fall in recent years in Colombia.
The UN report follows revelations by the Government's Task Force on Alcohol last May that consumption levels had jumped by 40% in the past decade, taking us from 12th to second place in world alcohol rankings.
Eurad's Ms Kenny said teenagers had too much money and parents did not realise what they were spending it on.
Police present as cannabis cafe opens
Lancashire Evening Telegraph, Saturday 03 Aug 2002
EAST Lancashire's first cannabis cafe opened for business last night.
Police attended the Real Jerk cafe in Bolton Road, Ewood, after owner David Wilson opened at about 4pm.
Mr Wilson allowed customers to bring along the drug and smoke it.
Officers paid two visits to warn the pro-cannabis campaigner that they would be monitoring his actions.
Mr Wilson, 37, said: "I'm here to cook West Indian food.
"I'll try this out and if the people of East Lancashire think it is okay I'll carry on, but if people don't support me I'll stop. I have had no problems - it has been a good night. A lot of people have
come down to show support.
The police came down before I opened to warn me to close and that they didn't like what I was doing. There has been no intimidation."
Mr Wilson said he closed the cafe three hours early at midnight because he wanted to stop young people coming from nightclubs and causing trouble because "that's not what this is about".
Cannabis Culture Arrives In Britain By The Back Door
Matthew Beard, The Independent, Saturday 03 Aug 2002
While inner-city cafes that allow covert smoking of cannabis escape prosecution, confrontational tactics attract police attention
The secluded lounge area is beginning to thicken with the sweet smell of sinsemilla at Cafe Cairo in Brixton, south London. Reclined among the Egyptian cushions soon after 7pm, a dozen or so people chat, listen to the soft vibes emanating from the DJ booth or craft a fresh joint on the low-slung tables.
To a passer-by the cafe appears little more than a thriving business selling coffee, juice and vegetarian snacks to a young crowd in this mainly working-class area of Lambeth. But it has become the archetype for a growing number of cannabis-tolerant cafes, bars and clubs in
metropolitan areas across Britain.
While the debate continues to rage over the Government's reclassification of cannabis and the Lambeth experiment to cease arrests for possession, the patrons and owners of cannabis-tolerant cafes are wondering what all the fuss is about.
David Lodge, who opened Cafe Cairo five years ago, said: "I suppose I could be busted at anytime, but somehow it never happens. I can only think that the police have an order from on high that we should stay open. I think they probably view us as a kind of experiment." Although
there are no drugs for sale on the premises, Cafe Cairo risks being shut on the basis of a 16th-century anti-prostitution law that prohibits a "house of ill-repute". But in common with the policing of brothels nationwide, the authorities in Lambeth appear to have turned a blind eye.
The cafe's customers appreciate the convenience of the adjacent Greenleaf "grocery store", which Mr Lodge estimates makes UKP 20,000 a week selling grass from a back room to a mainly white, middle-class clientele. A man aged 32 with a stake in the business said they were
tolerated by police provided they kept Landor Road, a mainly residential area, free of dealers.
Constantly watching for rival dealers, the man said: "If the neighbours don't complain then the police are not interested. They bust us occasionally but I think that is because of the political
pressure building up. The next bust is going to be big."
The alcohol-free cafe opens from 4pm to 1am and is frequented by a mixture of people of Arab origin, drawn by the traditional drinks and food menu and Arabic television, and career people including doctors, barristers and not a few police officers. Mr Lodge claims it has been
the local of choice of several MPs' sons.
Mr Lodge does not advertise the cafe and the discreet, black-painted shopfront is free of the cannabis leaves or rastafarian colours that typically adorn Dutch-style coffee shops. In a further sop to the authorities, Mr Lodge felt obliged towards the end of the one-year Lambeth experiment to stick up a few token "No Drugs" posters near the entrance - but that rule is instantly revealed to be defied. The owners of such establishments appreciate that they are unlikely to win explicit approval from police forces so they simply open a cafe andinsist to newcomers they do not permit smoking, while allowing the regulars to do exactly that.
One cannabis entrepreneur who recently met Michael Fuller, a Deputy Assistant Commissioner and the head of the Metropolitan Police's drugs directorate, and Derek Benson, the divisional police chief for Hackney, was told that, while stopping cannabis offences was not a
priority, he would be arrested for opening a coffee shop. Others have learnt that the way to success is through subtlety and steering clear of selling drugs.
For example Cafe 1001 in Brick Lane, east London, introduced a separate smokers' room two years ago without a bat of an eyelid from the local authorities. Leonor, the night-time manager, said: "When people come in and ask if they can smoke we say 'no' but it has been allowed for about two years now." Asked whether the cafe had attracted the attention of either the Metropolitan Police or Tower Hamlets council, she shrugged and said: "Nothing". Such low-profile tactics have ensured the survival of up to 30 cannabis-friendly cafes and bars in London, the majority in liberal Lambeth but others in Lewisham, Camden, Tower Hamlets and Hackney. Although many cafe and bar owners prefer not to publicise their enterprises, there is no
shortage of places to smoke in Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester andLiverpool to name a few.
David Crane, a cannabis campaigner planning to open an upmarket coffeeshop in north London, said: "Reclassification is a fact of life in most metropolitan areas of Britain. The reason I want to set up a coffee shop is to meet new people and make cannabis smoking more sociable. It's as harmless as that." The subtle approach could hardly be more different to the Dutch-style "coffee shops" in Stockport and Bournemouth that have been closed and their owners arrested. Earlier
this week the controversy surrounding Britain's first coffee shop, the Dutch Experience in Stockport, deepened with the arrest for alleged perjury of the elderly father of the campaigner Colin Davies, who is in prison for drug offences.
The same confrontational
approach by cannabis campaigners, possibly carried away by the pace of change in
the past 12 months, has seen plans falter for openings in north Wales, Edinburgh
and Leeds. Many of those who attended a course in Haarlem, the Netherlands, this
opening a coffee shop have returned to stiff resistance.
Getting high - the law in Europe
The Netherlands has been in the vanguard of change in drug policy in Europe. In 1972 the first coffee shop selling cannabis opened in Amsterdam and there are now about 120 such establishments. Owners risk losing their licence if they sell to under-18s or keep more than 500g
(18oz) of the drug on the premises. Cannabis is illegal although, in effect, decriminalised.
Tens of thousands of tourists flock each year to buy and smoke cannabis in the quasi-autonomous city of Christiania, which was set up in 1971. Hard drugs have been banned but there is a lucrative cannabis trade, mainly from Swedish teenagers who visit to smoke in the
notorious Pushers Street.
Smoking cannabis in bars, cafes and even on the streets is tolerated and in most cases is ignored by the police. There are several "headshops", but no obvious coffee shops selling the drug. In northern Germany, courts have been dismissing charges against people carrying
small quantities of soft drugs.
Cannabis cafe boss thanks police
Lancashire Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 20 Aug 2002
A CAFE boss today thanked police after his policy of allowing customers to smoke cannabis passed for two weeks without any arrests.
But David Wilson, owner of The Real Jerk cafe and takeaway, in Bolton Road, Ewood, Blackburn, said he was anxiously aware that the lack of police presence could mean officers were gathering evidence.
He said many customers had smoked cannabis in his takeaway since August 2 and had been pleased with the amount of support people had shown him.
Police visited the takeaway twice on the day it re-opened as a so-called 'cannabis cafe' and warned David they would be monitoring his actions. They have not yet returned in uniform.
David, 37, who has two young children, caused outrage in late July when he announced customers would be allowed to smoke what he described as 'God's herb' on his premises. The Real Jerk was then dubbed East Lancashire's first cannabis cafe, although David said his main concern was to cook West Indian food.
It was not his job to enforce the law and that people had the right to smoke whatever they wanted. But since, he has placed a sign in the window saying drugs are not sold on the premises after numerous people asked to buy cannabis.
But apart from that the police had given him no problems at all. David said: "I haven't seen the police around anywhere and I have to take that as a good thing.
Although I am on pins a bit as I know it could be a bad thing as they could be getting the troops ready, or if they are undercover. But I would like to thank the police for not intimidating me and not coming down."
Last month, Home Secretary David Blunkett announced plans to reclassify cannabis from a class B to a class C drug.
David, who has organised cannabis picnics in Corporation Park, said: "Cannabis has got to be separated from heroin and cocaine and other hard drugs. If people don't want what I am doing I won't carry on, but, so far, people have been supporting me."
Today police confirmed that the situation was being monitored. Sergeant Stuart Bruce said: "The local beat officer is aware of this new business venture and any concerns about the use of the premises will be dealt with accordingly."
Drugs musician let out of jail
Juliette Maxam, The East Anglian Daily Times, Saturday 24 Aug 2002
AN ill musician who was jailed for growing cannabis has been freed after a judge reduced his punishment to a conditional discharge.
Lance Ridler former session guitarist with the award-winning band Prodigy was given a two month prison sentence, with one month suspended, by Colchester magistrates last Wednesday.
Ridler had admitted growing cannabis plants at his home in Braintree, which were discovered by firefighters during a blaze which destroyed his studio last month.
But Ridler claimed the plants were for his own use to relieve a neurological disorder which makes chest tighten.
At Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday Recorder Rodger Hayward-Smith quashed Ridler's prison sentence. Ridler's defence counsel Marc Cannatella told the court his client was due
to see neurologist specialist today to get the urgent results of an MRI scan to show if he has a problem with either his brain or spine.
Mr Cannatella said: "This is not a man who has gone about to cultivate cannabis to make any money for it. This is a man whose circumstances Suggest a conditional discharge.
"He's spent three days in custody confined to his cell. His family was told
he would be put into a hospital wing - that hasn't happened."
After the hearing, Ridler's mother Rosemary Wood and fiancee Rebecca Cass complained about how Ridler was treated during his three days in Chelmsford Prison.
Mrs Wood claimed: "They told us at court he would go straight to a hospital wing because of his illness about four times.
"We rang and we were assured he was in the hospital wing and he would be given a message to phone home. Then, when we saw him today we found out he was never given the message and
was in a cell with two other people. I'm really cross about it."
Ms Cass added: "We have been out of our minds with worry because of the test results and this has just made everything worse"
Mrs Wood said she was considering making a complaint to the prison.
Chelmsford Prison assistant governor James Shanley denied Ridler had been in a cell with two other people. He said he would look into the matter
Nell Orr, chairman of the Board of Visitors, said the prison suffered from overcrowding which sometimes caused communication problems and messages not being passed on.
Drug use rife in prisons
Andrew Denholm, The Scotsman, Monday 26 Aug 2002
ALMOST 60 per cent of Scotland's prison population have admitted taking drugs while behind bars, according to an internal survey passed to The Scotsman.
The Scottish Prison Service study, carried out in May and June , found that 57 per cent of Scotland's 6,600 inmates said they had used illegal drugs.
Of the drugs used, cannabis was the most prevalent, at 75 per cent, but heroin and other opiates were the second largest group, on 69 per cent.
While only 38 per cent of prisoners reported using drugs during the months of the survey, of the 8 per cent who had injected heroin, 92 per cent said they had shared needles.
However, there were some positives for the SPS. Of the 57 per cent who admitted taking drugs, half said they had received help from prison staff, while 80 per cent said their drug use had decreased during their sentence.
Last night, opposition politicians and drug awareness groups said the findings were "extremely worrying" and called for the SPS to strengthen procedures to prevent drugs getting into prisons.
They also questioned current drug testing rules, claiming they could make heroin appear more acceptable to prisoners than cannabis, because it stays in the bloodstream for a far shorter time.
However, the SPS said drug problems in prison simply reflected those in society.
Roseanna Cunnninghame, the SNP's justice spokeswoman, said: "It is obviously of great concern that drugs are getting into prisons so easily."
Lord James Douglas Hamilton, Conservative justice spokesman, added: "Top priority should be given to preventing hard drugs getting into prisons, not just through searches but through the use of other measures, such as sniffer dogs."
Professor Neil McKeganey, director of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at Glasgow University, said the prison service should consider providing equipment to allow inmates to sterilise needles.
A spokeswoman for the SPS said: "We operate a number of initiatives including drug free areas, education programmes and random drug tests."
It's Three Spliffs And Out For Users
Evening News, Norwich, Tuesday 03 Sep 2002
Cannabis smokers will face a "three strikes and out" tactic from police when the drug is reclassified next year, it was revealed today.
Users stopped in the street once or twice with cannabis will simply have the drug confiscated, be given a formal warning and sent on their way.
But anyone caught three times in a year will face tougher penalties including a caution or arrest and charge for possession.
The new guidelines come from the
Association of Chief police Officers and will be unveiled at its annual drugs
conference which starts in Blackpool today.
The revised stance on cannabis will come into effect by July next year once the Home Secretary David Blunkett reclassifies the drug from Class B to the less serious Class C in the Misuse of Drugs Act. Andy Hayman, Deputy Assistant Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police and ACPO spokesman on drugs, is expected to detail the new guidelines today.
An ACPO spokesman said: "It is effectively three strikes and out and you could be arrested." Under the new guidelines, quantities of up to three grams of cannabis will be deemed for personal use.
UK: Cannabisness: springing up
David Rowan, London Evening Standard, Tuesday 03 Sep 2002
Suzie, 36, is a respectable mother of three who left accountancy to launch a successful landscape gardening business. But it is the healthy crop that she cultivates in her own flower beds that might surprise her well-to-do clients, among them a judge and a number of police officers and solicitors.
For lovingly tended at the back of her 40ft garden in suburban Southend-on-Sea sits an elegant grove of Cannabis sativa - still an illegal Class C drug, according to David Blunkett's reclassification, but soon, if Suzie is right, just another social relaxant to go legally on sale.
Once the law changes, as she believes it will, Suzie plans to launch her own cannabis cafe so she can profit from the expected boom in demand. "It will cost me about £7,000 to open my Southend coffee shop, and I've already had offers of backing," she says. "I'd be hesitant about supplying the shop myself, but I do have a friend who would grow for me."
As debate intensifies over what many see as the inevitable decriminalisation of cannabis, small-scale entrepreneurs like Suzie are vying with corporate investors to gain a foothold in this multi-billion-pound market. From cannabis cafes to cannabis vodka, the new commercial opportunities of "cannabisness" are spurring hundreds of business plans and countless board meetings - and all despite the Government's insistence that legalisation is not on the agenda.
Simon Woodroffe, founder of the Yo! Sushi restaurant chain, is among the investors standing by - among them pop stars, venture capitalists and even a television racing pundit. While most established businesses are keeping silent on their plans, Woodroffe is looking to create an "elegant" range of highclass cannabis bars that would redefine the drug's image.
He wants to create a fashionable space - call it Yo! Blow - for urban sophisticates to meet for a smoke. "I'd hope licences would go to people who have a proven record of operating restaurants or bars," he says. "I'd just find it a fascinating thing to do, and we'd all be better off if we drank less."
He has even proposed pumping cannabis smoke through his buildings to save customers the trouble of rolling their own - a joke, he says, that has taken on a life of its own. But he is serious about the business opportunities a change in the law would provide. "It will definitely happen
in time," he says.
Another eager cannabis investor is Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay, who has invited concert audiences to share an oversized joint, and admits to being a former dealer himself. Today, if the law allowed, he too would like to back a London cannabis bar - and, according to some suggestions, he would be prepared to spend £1 million to secure the right property. "Jay Kay has
considered investing in such a venture if the time was right," his spokesman confirms.
David Dundas, the Seventies pop star who found fame with the song Jeans On, has not only invested in cannabis, but is already reaping the financial rewards. Dundas was one of the initial investors in GW Pharmaceuticals (GWP), the first company licensed to grow cannabis in Britain for medical use, and when the company floated last year his 40,000 shares initially grew five-fold in value. Other investors included John Francome, the former jockey who now commentates on Channel 4, children's campaigner Lady Chadwyck-Healey and City investors Peter Mountford and Adrian Bradshaw. Not a bad rollcall for a company that grows 15 tonnes of cannabis a year.
Protected by heavy security, somewhere in the South of England, GWP is today cultivating more than 40,000 cannabis plants. Assuming its research trials are successful by late next year, the company expects to have cannabis medicines legally on sale in early 2004. "Cannabis is a very
versatile plant," explains GWP's spokesman, Mark Rogerson.
"We're looking at it for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, cancer, a wide range of intractable painful conditions, even arthritis. It's not a question of if these medicines become legal, but when. That doesn't require any change in the law, just a decision by the Home Secretary to alter the
medical schedule of drugs that doctors are allowed to prescribe."
The drug's active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), will be delivered not by smoking, but through such mechanisms as a spray aimed under the tongue. And if the company's founder, Dr Geoffrey Guy, is correct in his conviction that the trials will show cannabis to be "a remarkably safe, very worthwhile medicine", other pharmaceutical companies are certain to follow in pursuit of a huge potential market.
Exactly how much that market is worth is open to debate. Campaigners for legalisation claim that nine million British smokers currently spend around £3.5 billion each year on the unlawful trade. Even according to the Home Office, which commissioned its own sober assessment last year, some 2.6 million users in England use the drug on average 78 times a year, spending
£6.40 a time to get high.
Edward Bramley-Harker, the economist who prepared the Home Office survey, estimates the total UK market at £1.6 billion. For regular users, that typically means a £1,500 annual habit - a sum that legitimate organisations, from the tobacco industry to the Treasury, would like to get
their hands on.
They will not acknowledge it, of course. The Treasury will not comment, and no tobacco company contacted by the Evening Standard would admit to making plans to sell cannabis products should they be legalised. But every now and then, a document slips out that suggests how advanced these companies are in their plans. One internal British American Tobacco (BAT) memo draws
attention to "the undoubted opportunities which exist in the development of future products ... If the use of [marijuana] was legalised, one avenue for exploitation would be the augmentation of cigarettes with near-subliminal levels of the drug."
In another memo, a certain DE Creighton of BAT warns that tobacco products could expect "competition from cannabis ... We must find a way to appeal to the young ... so that the product image, and the product will satisfy this part of the market". And although the company denies it, Philip Morris, which makes Marlboro, reportedly applied in 1993 to trademark the brand
name "Marley" - Marley, that is, as in Bob Marley.
Danny Kushlick, of drugs campaign group Transform, is convinced that tobacco companies, pharmaceutical firms and distilleries have developed "scenario plans" in case of legalisation. "Obviously the tobacco companies will leap on this with enormous verve," he says.
But Clive Bates, director of Action on Smoking and Health, believes this market may not in fact be ripe for cigarette firms to exploit. "My guess is they'll be very wary of getting into cannabis," he says. More likely, Bates believes, will be the well-funded launch of a cannabisbased gum, rather
like nicotine gum, or new food products such as hash biscuits. Mr Kipling's Exceedingly Good Space Cakes, perhaps?
Breweries and pub chains have themselves been discussing the potential impact on profits of legalisation, notably cannabis smokers' tendency to consume less alcohol.
The drinks firm Diageo, which makes Guinness and Smirnoff, insists with typical firmness that "this is not something we consider relevant for our business".
Yet the Evening Standard understands that Britain's first cannabis cafe The Dutch Experience in Stockport, was approached some months ago to see if it would stock Guinness. The offer was refused; Guinness says it is unaware of any approach.
Sir Richard Branson, an active supporter of decriminalisation, believes that the legal cannabis market will actually favour small traders rather than huge conglomerates. He, for one, is not sure that the Virgin empire would ever wish to sell the drug. "I believe it's a product that should not
be too commercialised," he says, "and is better suited to being marketed by small cafe-style specialists."
This is where Nol van Schaik fits in. Van Schaik, a 48-year-old Dutchman, is a founding father of "cannabisness" in Britain. The owner of three coffee-shops in Haarlem, he has since March been training British entrepreneurs to open their own cafes, and personally backed The Dutch
Experience in Stockport.
His five-day "Cannabizness
Workshop" costs £575 a head, and topics covered include "How to make Netherhash",
"The joint-rolling machine in action" and "How to differentiate and value the
range of weeds and hashes". Van Schaik believes Britain is ready for a wave of
new cannabis cafes, more per head even than in Holland.
"The charm of coffee shops is that they're independent," van Schaik says. "I don't see that Starbucks doing marijuana would succeed, though I'm sure they'll try it."
Van Schaik has been trading since 1991, and would now be "a very rich man" if he sold up: his shops each take around 500,000 euros (£330,000) a year.
And though the sale of cannabis is tolerated rather than legal in Holland, the tax office is rather pleased with him: he pays income tax on his joints as well as 19 per cent VAT, and employs 30 people directly and a further 70 indirectly - many of them "aunties and grannies" who grow weed at home.
One of his workshop graduates is David Crane, a 38-year-old website builder from London who after eight months' work is hoping to open his own coffeeshop in Hackney. It will cost Crane £250,000 to open The Hempire, which will be aimed at the over-25 crowd.
A week after finalising his business plan, Crane attended a meeting with police officers to discuss his plans, initially for a standard cafe that would tolerate smoking. The news was not good: "They made it very clear that we would be referred to the CPS if we opened," he says. "It may be
prudent for us to wait a bit longer - but this is a big industry that won't go away."
Carl Wagner is already seeing the profits. Wagner, 43, runs the Divine Herb market stall in Hull's indoor market, selling gro-lights, hemp wallpaper, cannabis pasta and hemp boots and clothes. He has already rejected a £20,000 offer for the stall. Next January, he plans to open the Divine Herb cafe, for which he has just had three offers of premises from elderly medical cannabis users.
"I know of dozens of people who grow it, and I even arranged for a consortium of eight pensioners to grow it in their sheltered housing," Wagner says. "They're looking to supply themselves with medicinal cannabis, and I've asked them to pass over any spare."
But there are some things even beyond an astute businessman such as Carl Wagner. "I was approached by a rep to sell Cannabis Vodka," says Wagner, a reformed bottle-a-day man. "I had to say no - I just didn't want to associate such a safe plant with hard drugs like that."
Court told of cannabis smoked at Dutch-style coffee shop
Ananova, Friday 13 Sep 2002
A man who opened an Amsterdam-style coffee shop has gone on trial charged with drugs offences.
Colin Davis, 44, was arrested after the police raided the Dutch Experience cafe in Stockport, Greater Manchester, when the cafe opened on September 15 last year.
Four others involved in the cafe on Hooper Street in the town Hooper Street have also gone on trial charged with drugs offences.
Opening the case for the prosecution, Alan Wolstenholme told a jury at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court that Davies let police search the cafe and even smoked cannabis in front of officers.
He was arrested and a search of his home at Romney Towers, Stockport, revealed around 90g of cannabis together with a large quantity of resealable bags, which could have been used to distribute the drug, Mr Wolstenholme said.
Customs officers at Dover later uncovered packages addressed to Davies containing 4kg of the drug - valued at around £18,000 - including more than 400 pre-prepared cannabis cigarettes.
A further raid was carried out at the Dutch Experience in November of last year and Davies, along with a number of others, were arrested again. Searches on this occasion uncovered £3,000 in cash at Davies's home.
Davies is charged with a total of seven counts, including possession of a Class B drug with intent to supply, being involved in the importation and supply of cannabis and permitting premises to be used for the smoking of the drug.
Phillip Rainford, 35, of Market Place, Stockport; Stephen Caveney, 47, of Rishworth Close in Offerton, Stockport; and Andrew Young, 32, of Reddish Road, Stockport, all face charges surrounding the supply of the drug.
Robin Wright, 46, of Duncan Road in Longsight is charge with permitting the cafe to be used for the smoking of cannabis while Davies was in custody. All five men deny all the charges.
Cafe sold cannabis to seriously ill, owner claims
Laura Scott, The Independent, Tuesday 24 Sep 2002
A man "put his head on the line" to open an Amsterdam-style coffee shop where seriously ill people could get cannabis to ease their pain, a court was told yesterday.
Colin Davies was charged with a string of drug offences after opening the Dutch Experience cafe in Stockport, Greater Manchester, last year.
The 44-year-old was arrested after smoking a joint during a police raid on the shop's opening day 12 months ago, Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, heard.
Mr Davies claimed the shop's purpose was to supply cannabis to those who needed the Class B drug for medicinal purposes - an idea he had after visiting coffee shops in Holland. He told the court he had set up a group, the Medical Marijuana Co-operative, through which he sold
cannabis to about 200 people with illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, cancer and Aids.
"Patients" were paying about £25 for between 7g and 14g of cannabis, which had an estimated street value of between £70 and £80, he said.
Mr Davies told the court: "I had sort of taken it on to help these people. I wanted this cannabis distributed to the patients to make their life a little bit better. I have put my head on the line for these people."
Police discovered about 90g of cannabis during a search of his home in Stockport, while customs officers at Dover later intercepted parcels addressed to Mr Davies containing 4kg of the drug - worth about £18,000 and including more than 400 pre-rolled joints.
He and four other men involved in the coffee shop have gone on trial charged with drugs offences. All five men deny all the charges.
Cannabis coffee bar welcomed
This is Lancashire, Wednesday 25 Sep 2002
A COUNCILLOR has given his blessing to a borough's first Amsterdam-style coffee shop.
Hyndburn councillor John Burke says the opening of the cafe, above Studio One tattoo parlour, Warner Street, Accrington, should be welcomed as a way of pushing the boundaries towards the legalisation of cannabis.
Customers at the cafe will be allowed to smoke cannabis although none will be sold and no hard drugs will be allowed.
Speaking at the cafe, opened by Frank and Margaret Mac, Coun Burke -- who says he has smoked cannabis -- said he felt the controlled drug should be legalised as a way of raising taxation for the government.
He said: "The government is talking about raising people's personal tax and to me this is a way of stopping that and finding extra revenue.
"I think it should be legalised and taxed. It would also take it away from the streets and put it into an environment like this which is more adult based." And he disputed the argument that use of cannabis automatically leads to use of harder drugs.
He added: "In a very small minority of cases there might be people that will move towards harder drugs. The only way to eradicate that is to eradicate hard drugs. Certain dealers deal in all forms of drugs but not all dealers.
"The reason a lot of people move on to harder drugs is because of peer pressure, and places like this would help take away that peer pressure. It would cut the market for dealers and by doing that it would cut their links to teenagers.
I don't think it's irresponsible. I actually think it's a way of moving our society on to the next level of our personal civilisation. Cannabis has been around since time immemorial. Tribes all over the world use it for recreation."
Mr Mac welcomed Coun Burke's support and said the police should give the cafe a chance to prove the use of cannabis could be controlled.
"This is what we need. In the UK we are so old fashioned it's unbelievable. This is an 18-licensed studio. We are adults not kids. It's under supervision here and they would rather it was out of sight and out of mind. I don't think the government will legalise it but I think they will decriminalise it. Let's show the police that we can control this. If they can give us a bit of a gap of one or two months they will never get any violence here. But hard drugs, no way."
A page devoted to the cafe is to be added to the tattoo parlour's web site, which can be found at
Police have said they would be monitoring the situation.
Stockport Express, Wednesday 02 Oct 2002
Cannabis conman Colin Davies has today (Wednesday) been found guilty of international drug trafficking.
The boss of Britain's first cannabis cafe sold the drug with coffee, claiming it was for medicinal purposes for people who needed pain relief.
In reality, The Dutch Experience cafe was a smokescreen. A jury at Minshull Street Crown Court took four hours deliberation before finding him guilty of trafficking narcotics between Holland and Dover, on top of a number of other drug-related offences.
Davies, 44, of Romney Tower, Reddish is now to be sentenced at a later date.
He - along with 13 others - was arrested in a police raid in September last year, following a public display of flouting drug laws at the Reddish cafe.
Soon after customs seized 18,000 pounds of cannabis at Dover connected to Davies.
A raid on Davies' home found 90 grammes of cannabis and UKP 3,000 in cash at a time when he was claiming just over UKP 50 per week disability allowance.
Davies was found guilty of importing drugs, being concerned with the supply of drugs, possession with intent and permitting the premises to be used for smoking cannabis. He'd denied all charges.
Others in court included:
Stephen Caveney, 47, of Rishworth Close, Offerton has been convicted of
possessing cannabis with intent.
Robin Wright, 45, of Duncan Road, Longsight was found guilty of permitting
premises to be used for smoking the drug.
Andrew Young, 30, of Reddish Road, Stockport, and Phillip Rainford, 34, of
Millgate, Stockport were acquitted of drugs charges.
While awaiting trial, Davies has become a figurehead for legalise dope campaigners.
Davies first hit the headlines in 1998 when he claimed to take marijuana to combat pain following a fall three years earlier. He was acquitted of unlawful possession.
He then set up a nationwide 'cannabis co-operative' which involved him selling the drug to other members. He was subsequently charged but cleared again.
In 2000, he hit the national headlines when he gave a bouquet of marijuana to the Queen during her visit to Salford's Lowry centre.
UK drug problem 'among EU worst'
The BBC, Thursday 03 Oct 2002
Britain has one of the highest numbers of drug addicts in the European Union, according to research. A report by the EU's drugs agency shows the UK also has the highest number of people who admit to trying amphetamine or cannabis.
About 11% of people questioned in the UK said they had tried amphetamine, compared with between 1% and 6% in other EU member states.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction said the survey suggested drug use overall appeared to have stabilised but cocaine and cannabis use may be on the rise.
The UK had 6.7 "problem drug users" per 1,000 people. These include those who inject or are long-term users of opiates, cocaine or amphetamine, often committing crime to feed their expensive habits.
This figure was beaten only by Italy, Portugal and Luxembourg in research involving 16 countries.
The Netherlands, which is perceived to be more tolerant of drugs, had the lowest number of problem users - just 2.6 per 1,000.
But the UK did have the lowest number of HIV-positive injecting drug users - at 1%, compared with 34% in Spain.
Researchers found 30% of adult Britons admitted trying cannabis, compared with just 10% in Finland.
Executive director of the Lisbon-based European Monitoring centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Georges Estievenart, said: "Where increases are still noted in some indicators in some countries or regions, the general picture seems now more similar to a stable 'endemic' situation.
"This is contrary to the situation in the 1980s and first half of the 1990s, when many countries in the EU experienced extreme and epidemic rises in drug use and related problems."
The 60-page report said more warnings should be given about the dangers of experimenting with potentially lethal drug cocktails.
It said clubbers needed to be made aware of the dangers of using legal substances - such as high-energy drinks - with illicit drugs like Ecstasy and other stimulants.
It warned that using the drinks while on Ecstasy could lead to hyperactivity, overheating and heart attacks.
Combining other legal and illegal drugs - such as Ecstasy and alcohol, or benzodiazepines and opiates - could also lead to potentially lethal side-effects, it added.
The report said the UK was one of seven countries to report a possible increase in the number of problem drug users.
The Home Office has recognised that cocaine use among young Britons is on the rise, and the report shows the UK has the highest proportion of people admitting to using the drug within the previous year - 3.3%, followed by Spain (2.7%) and Ireland (2.8%).
The report said there had been growing concern about possible increases in cocaine use in the EU which "seems consistent among young people in the United Kingdom and, possibly to a lesser extent, in Denmark, Germany and Greece".
A Home Office spokesman said: "We will examine the report.The British Crime Survey indicates that drug use generally remained stablebetween 1998 and 2000. Cocaine use rose from 1% to 5% between 1994 and 2000, but the increase is not statistically significant.Our drugs strategy is focusing on Class A drugs that do most harm."
First cannabis cafe owner jailed
Reuters, Thursday 03 Oct 2002
LONDON (Reuters) - The man behind Britain's first Dutch-style cannabis cafe has been jailed for three years for possessing and supplying the drug, court officials say.
Pot pioneer Colin Davies, 44, a leading campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis who once presented the Queen with a bouquet of marijuana plants, opened the cafe in Stockport last September.
Within minutes of the launch of the "The Dutch Experience", it was raided by police and Davies was arrested.
On Thursday he was jailed at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court on eight charges including perjury and possessing a class B drug with intent to supply while on bail for other drug-related offences.
Davies, a founder of the Medical Marijuana Co-operative, a non-profit organisation that provides cannabis to people who suffer from multiple sclerosis and arthritis, said he had wanted to give sufferers of debilitating diseases a safe place to buy the drug.
"The Dutch Experience", which makes no secret of its business, has been raided by police a number of times since last September but has remained open for business.
In July, Home Secretary David Blunkett announced plans to ease laws governing cannabis users from next summer, downgrading the drug to low risk Class C. Although still illegal, the change would make discreet possession of small amounts of the drug or smoking it in private a non-arrestable offence.
An ICM survey said five million people used cannabis regularly and even royalty has tried it. Prince Harry, second son of Prince Charles, made headlines this year when it was revealed he had smoked cannabis.
Cannabis cafe raided as owner jailed
BBC Online, Thursday 03 Oct 2002
The UK's first Amsterdam-style cannabis cafe has been raided on the same day its owner was jailed.
The news came just hours after cafe owner Colin Davies was sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of drugs offences.
Greater Manchester Police confirmed on Thursday the Dutch Experience cafe in Stockport had been raided by officers.
Davies had claimed the cafe was set up for seriously ill people who used the class B drug for medicinal use.
His defence team applied for his immediate release because he hasalready served nine months in jail, but the judge refused.
Davies, 44, from Romney Towers, Brinnington, Stockport, was arrested when the cafe opened on 15 September 2001 after being caught smoking a joint. He had claimed the cafe was based on similar ventures - the so-called "medi-weed" system - which operate in the Netherlands.
He said his clientele were people who smoked cannabis to ease painful illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and arthritis.
But he was found guilty of three counts of possessing a class B drug with intent to supply, of supplying a class B drug and of being involved in the importation of cannabis.
His trial heard customs officers seized cannabis worth £18,000 at Dover and 430 ready-made joints destined for addresses linked to Davies.
The prosecution also alleged £3,000 cash found at his flat was the proceeds from the sale of the drug.
Davies was also convicted of permitting the premises to be used for the smoking of the drug.
In passing sentence, the judge said Davies had persistently flouted the law.
James McCrindell, for the defence, said: "This episode began out of a genuine belief on the part of Davies that it was appropriate to help others who were in difficult circumstances in relation to their medical condition."
Cannabis cafe case will not stop Scot
Kay Jardine, The Herald, Thursday 03 Oct 2002
THE opening of an Amsterdam- style coffee shop in Scotland will go ahead despite the founder of a similar cannabis cafe in England being found guilty of drugs offences yesterday.
Kevin Williamson, founder of the Rebel Inc publishing firm and the Scottish Socialist Party's spokesman on drugs policy, said the verdict would have no effect on his plans to open a cafe selling cannabis in Edinburgh. He said: "If anything, it's going to make me more determined."
Colin Davies, 44, founder of the Dutch Experience cafe in Stockport, was found guilty of possessing a class B drug with intent to supply, supplying a class B drug, being involved in importing cannabis, and permitting premises to be used for the smoking of the drug.
He had pleaded not guilty and claimed the shop's purpose was to supply cannabis to those who needed it for medicinal purposes. A jury at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester took just over five hours to reach their verdicts. Davies was remanded in custody to await sentence.
Mr Williamson said: "If they try to jail him, they're just showing they want cannabis to stay in the hands of the criminals."
However, a spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said that anyone trying to establish a cannabis cafe risks imprisonment or a heavy fine, or both.
She added: "Reclassification of cannabis makes no difference to this position."
Cannabis cafe boss is convicted on drug charges at third trial
Ian Herbert, North of England Correspondent
The Independent, Thursday 03 Oct 2002
Detectives in Manchester could scarcely hide their delight yesterday when, at the third attempt, they won drugs convictions against the owner of Britain's first Amsterdam-style cannabis cafe.
Colin Davies was acquitted at his two previous trials after persuading juries that the class-B drug was medicinal. But the 44-year-old, who has been in custody for a year for a breach of bail conditions, was sent back to jail after being convicted of offences for which he was arrested on his Dutch Experience cafe's first day of trading, in September 2001.
A jury of seven men and five women took five hours to convict him of six offences, including importing and supplying drugs. He faces a maximum 14-year term but will probably get far less. Davies traded cannabis while on bail. He was recording a BBC TV interview when police made
"He has been openly laughing at the law but thankfully it appears justice has caught up with him at last," one police source said. "Davies has been a thorn in our side for years and we are very pleased he has got his just desserts."
In the three-week trial, the prosecution at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court claimed the cafe provided a "facade of moral legitimacy".
The volume of cash and drugs linked to Davies appears to have convinced the jury. Police had found £3,000 in cash in his Stockport flat at a time when he was drawing £56.25 a week in disability benefits.
Customs officials also seized £18,000 worth of cannabis at Dover in eight packages, complete with 430 ready-made joints - all destined for addresses linked to Davies, a former carpenter. A cafe volunteer was found to have £1,160 in cash on him, while 4.5lb of cannabis resin was
discovered in the boot of Davies' Dutch business partner's car.
But Davies' customers, as in previous trials, testified that his £15 packets of super-skunk grass and Lebanese Gold resin were medicinal.
Davies claims the roots of his enterprise lie in an encounter in the smoking room at the Sheffield spinal injuries unit where, temporarily paralysed by breaks to three vertebrae, he met a paraplegic car crash victim who told him to try cannabis for the pain.
At a time when the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, was planning in effect to "decriminalise" cannabis, the authorities seemed resigned to Davies' trade. Davies will not be sentenced until he has faced two further trials on charges of perjury and possessing cannabis later this
year. But his work has already left a legacy. His cafe has spawned plans for similar enterprises from Brighton to Glasgow.
Cannabis turns out a winner in pain trials
Jasper Copping, Evening News, Norwich, Friday 04 Oct 2002
A NORFOLK_BASED trial of cannabis-based medicines has produced powerful evidence of their painkilling potential, say scientists.
The Government has given a special license to firm GW Pharmaceuticals to carry out tests on a range of cannabis-based prescription medicines.
The latest research has been carried out by Dr Willy Notcutt at his pain clinic at the James Paget Hospital, in Gorleston.It focused on 34 patients - with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and
other severe conditions causing severe pain - who had not responded well to current medications. When they were treated with the cannabis-based medication, 28 said it had
reduced pain and helped them sleep better.
Each patient was treated with three different types of medication, containing different levels of the active ingredients of cannabis.
All out-performed a dummy medication.
Dr Notcutt said: "Patients in this trial are suffering from severe pain – it dominates their lives.
Given the previously intractable nature of their pain symptoms the improvements provided by cannabis-based medicines are all the more remarkable.
Many of those with chronic pain also suffer from a poor quality of sleep, which - over time - can have profoundly negative effects on them and their families."
The trial is on pilot scale and more extensive research is needed before cannabis-based medications are made widely available.
But Dr Geoffrey Guy, GW executive chairman, said: "We are delighted with the results of this study in patients with severe pain.
"The data shows improvements with all three of our cannabis-based medicines and we therefore believe that there will be a market for all three medicines in pain treatment in due course."
The Medicinal Cannabis Research Foundation (MCRF) welcomes the results.
Its lead trustee Lord Rea said: "We are encouraged that patients in this study have gained significant benefit and that the medicines appear to be well tolerated."
Cannabis smoker cleared on medical grounds
Robert Verkaik, The Independent, Thursday 10 Oct 2002
A man accused of possessing 55 grams of cannabis escaped punishment yesterday after he told magistrates he needed the drug for health reasons.
Brad Stephens, 45, who lives with his two children, claimed smoking cannabis was a "medical necessity" which eased the pain of his crippling spinal condition. The case is believed to be one of the first in which magistrates have accepted medical reasons as a defence to possession of a
large quantity of cannabis.
Carmarthen magistrates were told
that police found the class B drug in a raid on Mr Stephens' home. He owned up
to being a regular cannabis user but denied the charge of possessing the drug.
His solicitor, Mike Reed, told the court: "Mr Stephens suffers from ... a
degenerative bone disease of the upper spine and neck." He said that although
his client has been prescribed
morphine to combat the pain his body had built up a resistance so that he required increasing doses. "Large doses of morphine can seriously damage health so by taking cannabis he reduces his dependency on morphine and the potentially fatal risk. In effect, the cannabis is saving his life," said Mr Stephens.
The magistrates accepted it was a medical necessity for Mr Stephens to take the drug and found him not guilty of possession. But they ordered the cannabis to be destroyed. Mr Reed said afterwards: "We needed to prove that the cannabis was doing more than simply easing his symptoms. There is a legal defence of necessity but it is very difficult to succeed with." He
said he believed it was the first case in which magistrates had acquitted someone solely on medical grounds.
Paddick hits out at government crime policy
Sophie Goodchild, Independent on Sunday, 13 Oct 2002
Commander Brian Paddick has attacked the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, for setting "meaningless" crime reduction targets and has accused the police service of turning its back on "radical thinkers".
Britain's most senior openly gay police officer said that the Government is more concerned with winning votes than satisfying the real needs of communities.
The comments, which have only just emerged, were made at a conference on police reform earlier this month. In his speech at the Royal College of Arts, he criticised selection boards for choosing officers in their own, conservative image.
Street crime was not a significant problem for some of the police forceswhich took part in the Government's street crime initiative, he said.
"Only a small proportion of the public is affected by robbery. Far greater numbers are affected by open drug dealing," he said. As Commander of Lambeth police, Mr Paddick piloted a "softly, softly" approach to cannabis use.
The Crown Prosecution Service announced last week that Mr Paddick would face no charges over allegations that he allowed cannabis to be smoked in his home. The Metropolitan Police Authority meets tomorrow to consider disciplinary action.
Soft drugs policy led to less street crime, more police time - and a torrent of abuse
Paul Peachey, The Independent, Thursday 10 Oct 2002
Brian Paddick was the pioneer of a controversial drugs scheme that allowed people caught in possession of small amounts of cannabis in Lambeth to be let off with a warning.
The move, designed as an alternative to arrest and prosecution, was intended to free officers to deal with emergency calls and to tackle crack and heroin abuse.
But the year-long pilot scheme ended in August and will be replaced by a tougher national system in which officers will make arrests for possession if they fear public disorder, if the drug is smoked openly or if it is found on anyone under 17. People caught three times in possession of cannabis will also be arrested.
The project in Lambeth opened with high hopes, particularly from within the community where local surveys showed there was strong support for the trial. Mr Paddick said a Mori poll showed only 7 per cent of white residents, 10 per cent of black and 7 per cent of Asian residents
interviewed opposed the scheme. However, senior officers began to cool to the scheme amid claims that drug dealers and users were being attracted to the area because the project was not extended London-wide.
The head of Scotland Yard's drugs directorate, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Michael Fuller, claimed there had been reports of pupils arriving at school "stoned" and believed the police approach sent mixed messages to the public.
Mr Fuller, who gradually became less supportive of the scheme, said: "Many parents of teenagers are raising concerns ... that the current perception of liberalisation and relaxation of the drug laws created by the scheme will inevitably result in more young people [and adults] experimenting in using cannabis and possibly harder drugs."
Mr Paddick denied the claims, saying that fears of children being more at risk "may be a perception rather than a reality".
The policies resulted in an increase in arrests for hard drugs and a fall in levels of street crime and burglary. Official figures showed that the scheme had not transformed the district into a haven of drug dealing, as critics had claimed.
In the first six months, officers and civilian staff saved more than 2,500 hours of police time. There was a 19 per cent increase in arrests of class A drug dealers, but the number or arrests for dealing in cannabis also went up by 11 per cent during that period. Mr Fuller also acknowledged that police time saved by issuing warnings was significant. In the first six months of the trial, a total of 1,350 police hours were saved, the equivalent of two officers on the street.
The deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Ian Blair, said the experiment was a success "in statistical terms" but there had been a failure to explain what the experiment was trying to achieve.
The line-up for and against Paddick
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, March
"Brian Paddick is popular and [has] the support of the community in Brixton ... it's, I think, a witch-hunt."
Leading article, The Daily Telegraph, 3 May 2002
"As a right-on copper with anarchist sympathies and as someone alleged to have allowed the use of cannabis in his own home, [he] was not the right person to lead the decriminalisation of the drug."
Canon Richard Truss, Dean of Lambeth, March
"Commander Paddick seems the sort of person who would take initiatives that are desperately needed in the borough. We need someone with imagination in policing ... I admire him."
Richard Littlejohn, The Sun, 22 February
"People are crying out for strong policing. We want Robocop, not one of the Village People. And what do we get? A professional homosexual with a degree in wheel-clamping, who thinks cocaine and ecstasy are harmless, finds anarchy attractive and is in the habit of pouring out his heart to complete strangers on the internet. Not so much 'Hello, hello, hello' as 'Hello, sailor'."
Lee Jasper, the adviser on policing to Ken Livingstone, London's Mayor, March
"He's a tremendously effective officer and his unique rapport with the community has got to be exactly what the Met is looking for to cope with policing such a diverse population."
Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 27 March
"Paddick is being cynically marketed as a mascot for two incendiary libertarian causes - drug legalisation and gay rights. The fact that he embodies both makes Paddick a toxic symbol for those who want to wreak havoc on an orderly society."
Bob Gould, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, 11 July 2002
"I recently did a two-year stint as a patrol sergeant in Brixton. The extent of control on the streets, and on the lives of youngsters, exercised by drug dealers was shocking; and that was before the 'Paddick experiment'. Now, the decent and law-abiding residents of Brixton tell us the situation
is infinitely worse."
MEP backs jailed pot crusader
Neil Brooks, Ellesmere Port Pioneer, Thursday 24 Oct 2002
THE jailing of Stockport cannabis coffee shop owner Colin Davies has been criticised by an Ellesmere Port Euro MP.
But the development has been applauded by Port-based Parents Against Drug Abuse (PADA).
Davies, 44, had denied possessing, supplying and importing a Class Bdrug and permitting premises to be used for the use of the drug.
But at Manchester Crown Court he was jailed for three years for 'persistently flouting the law'.
Chris Davies MEP, who is facing charges at Manchester Crown Court on October 28 for possession of cannabis as part of a political protest, said: 'Colin Davies is a martyr who has led the challenge to the ridiculous laws on cannabis.
'I have no doubt that in the course of time his actions will be entirely vindicated. Ten years ago the owners of most of Britain's major stores broke the Sunday Trading Act in a deliberate attempt to change the law. They succeeded and have since been rewarded with knighthoods and huge
Colin Davies has done just the same by opening Britain's first cannabis coffee shop, but he has had to pay a much higher price.'
The MEP added: 'The Government's own experts now say that cannabis is less harmful than either alcohol or tobacco. If Colin Davies is a criminal then logic dictates that so should be the managers of every shop and supermarket which sells these drugs.
'Now the Home Secretary has signalled his intention to downgrade the law on cannabis, this conviction makes the legal system look farcical. It is like a throwback to another time.'
But Lynn Clare at PADA said: 'I believe that Colin Davies was warned on several occasions that he was breaking the law. Smoking and dealing the drug is still an of-fence.
'Therefore, if the police tell you repeatedly that you are committing a crime then you must face the consequences. I have no sympathy with him at all.'
She added: 'No-one can convince us that cannabis is harmless. It does cause problems. So for Colin Davies to encourage and tout the use of it is immoral.
'Parents have a hard enough job to do without him opening a shop and selling it.'
Judge's fury at MEPs
Manchester Online, Monday 28 Oct 2002
EURO MP Chris Davies was severely criticised by a judge after pleading guilty to possession of cannabis in a protest against drug laws.
The judge said he was highly irresponsible and had taken up valuable court time.
Davies, 48, the Liberal Democrat Euro MP for Stockport, appeared in court on Monday with fellow Euro MP, the Italian Marco Cappato, 31, who pleaded guilty to cannabis possession following an incident five days after Mr Davies' protest.
Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, heard that they were trying to highlight the "flawed" nature of Britain's drug laws.
The 48-year-old married father-of-one admitted at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, that he had 900mgs of cannabis stuck to a postage stamp when he carried out a protest against drug laws at Stockport Police Station last December.
Fining both Euro MPs £100, Judge Fish ordered that Davies pay a total of £3,585 costs while Cappato was told to pay £2,335 costs.
The judge said: 'You have each pleaded guilty to an offence which it would be true to say is very much at the lower end of the catalogue of drug offences. But the circumstances in which you each committed this offence called for careful consideration and go a long way to aggravating the
offences you have committed.
I do not for one moment cast any doubt on the views and motivation you have for campaigning for changes in the law regarding cannabis.
But the way in which you which you chose to pursue that campaign last December is regarded by the court as highly irresponsible for a number of reasons. You are both well known campaigners in this field and both have ready access to the media and other bodies which exercise influence in this country and in Europe.
You have the opportunity of expressing your views within the democratic process available in this country and most others and yet you chose in a flagrant and provocative way to draw attention to your views by breaching the laws you seek to change. People who elected you to represent them are entitled to expect you to respect the law even if you do not agree with it - just as millions of people throughout Europe have to do, even with laws you may have helped frame and even if they disagree with them. Your actions have claimed police time, the time of the prosecution and the time of this court for what you admit was a publicity stunt.
That time could have been given to matters that could have had a much greater importance to people of this city, who have concerns such as street crime, violence and sexual offences against children, to name just three.
There are people throughout this city waiting anxiously to come to this court to give evidence to have matters disposed of and you have taken time that might have been given to them.'
Both men looked on as Alan Wolstenholme told the court that Mr Davies had addressed a crowd of about 25 outside Stockport police station on December 15.
He had been talking about the need to reform the country's drug laws and had said he was making a point in relation to his constituent, Colin Davies, who had been prosecuted for running a Dutch-style cannabis cafe in Stockport.
Chris Davies said after the hearing: 'Today I pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis and I now have a criminal record. I do not regret this. I have campaigned for a change in the law and I want the same sort of approach to cannabis as there is in Holland, which has separated the issue
of soft and hard drugs.
The judge called us highly irresponsible and if I was in his position I would have done the same. There is a large demand on court time and I would argue that if the cannabis laws were reformed it would mean that much more court time would be available to deal with the things that matter.’
'There comes a time when politicians have to match their words with actions. Today I have been trying to represent people from all walks of life who have taken cannabis and put themselves at risk of prosecution and possible loss of their careers. Politicians should be speaking up for their
It may well be that I am branded in some quarters for this but my criminal record will not, to the best of my knowledge, stop me from doing anything that I have to do as an MEP.
It will be up to the electorate to decide whether to vote for me again when I come up for re-election in the future. I do not regret this and I feel that attention has been drawn to the whole issue of cannabis.'
The Sentinel, Thursday 31 Oct 2002
Campaigners fighting for a change in British drug laws have pledged their support for convicted Cheshire MEP Chris Davies.
The Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) has congratulated Mr Davies on his "principled viewpoint" following his conviction for possessing cannabis during a demonstration in Stockport last December.
The Liberal Democrat MEP, who earns £55,000, has shown support for Dutch-style cannabis coffee shops after he was fined £100 and ordered to pay £3,500 costs. His total legal bill is expected to amount to some £5,000.
He had held up a small quantity of cannabis resin stuck to the back of a postage stamp outside a police station.
Subsequently, he was criticised for setting a bad example to young people.
LCA spokesman Don Barnard said: "The LCA applauds Chris Davies' stance to offer himself up for a criminal record and criticism from his peers."
Duncan Cameron, of the Parents Against Lethal Addictive Drugs Group has added his voice to calls for a change in the law.
He said: "I support Mr Davies in his dedication to the introduction of fair drug laws which encourage the use of the safest drugs and discourage the most dangerous.The law currently prohibits the use of the safest recreational drug known, cannabis, while allowing the most dangerous drug known, tobacco, to remain legal."
Mr Davies, who used to be a member of the House of Commons Drugs Misuse Group, took part in the demonstration in support of the first cannabis shop in Britain, which was opened in Stockport by Colin Davies who is now serving a three-year jail term.
The MEP said: "My objective has been to stimulate public debate, promote a change in the law and cut the amount of police time that is wasted at present on making criminals out of cannabis users who do not harm anyone else. If my action in any way helps achieve these objectives then the costs of £5,000 I have incurred will have been money well spent."
Free Rob Cannabis and Tony Taylor's trails report 1
Courtesy of Russell Cronin, 12 Nov 02
Rob's trial was preceded by a discussion between Judge Karston, Ms Strickland for the Crown and Free Rob Cannabis, representing himself. The Judge didn't conceal his amusement at Free Cannabis' name - 'so you really are Mr Cannabis? - and generally gave the impression of tolerance, if not sympathy, toward the defendant. He did, however, point out that there are people in prison on bail awaiting trial in his court and suggested that the case need not take anything like the six days for which it was scheduled. The prosecution had listed 15 witnesses - policemen, all - to appear and the judge thought that was surely too many? Rob wanted to question a couple of them about the manner of his arrest, claiming that excessive force had been used in restraining him and that he'd been subjected to a degrading intimate search. Eventually it was agreed to call three policemen and to read statements from the rest.
Rob's defence will consist of a statement of his beliefs with regard to cannabis; a brief discussion of the origins of prohibition, and an assertion of his Human Rights. Judge Karston struggled to comprehend exactly what Mr Cannabis hopes to achieve in his trial, bearing in mind that he doesn't dispute the evidence, and pointed out that any attempt to invoke article 9.1 of the European Declaration of Human Rights was bound to fail in the light of an Appeals Court decision from last year (this might've been Jerry Ham's case). The Judge summarised Rob's case by saying that he will be admitting the facts of the case against him, but directing the jury to deliver a 'perverse verdict' of not guilty on the grounds that the MDA is an unjust law and that he (the Judge) would then be obliged to contradict Free Cannabis and direct the jury to find him guilty.
After these cordial exchanges, the jury was empanelled and, if looks tell you anything, they seemed sympathetic, with a wide ethnic mix and a good proportion of women. Free Cannabis is indicted on three counts; 1. Offering cannabis for sale in an auction held at Speakers' Corner on 29/9/01 2. Possessing cannabis that was found in his bag after his arrest, in two sealed and addressed envelopes, with intent to supply. 3. Possession of cannabis found at his home in Glastonbury following a search on the same day.
The prosecution called Inspector Maurice Kiddle from Notting Hill, who commanded the 'serial' ( a police unit comprising an Inspector, 3 Sergeants, and 21 Constables) that arrested Rob. He told how he was policing an organised demonstration for the legalisation of cannabis, had observed Rob holding what appeared to be an auction of illicit substances, and had determined to arrest him.
While waiting for the next witness to arrive at court, the jury was shown a video of the first three lots of the auction: 7g or organic, Swiss-grown Hindu Kush weed with a glass pipe to smoke it in went for £70; 5g of pollinator hash from Switzerland, plus a pipe, made £52; 4g of Afghani hash with a pipe fetched £55...
Chief Inspector Woods then arrived from Hendon where he is in charge of the police driving school, but also has special responsibility for large demonstrations such as the one at which Rob was arrested. He was quite a cove, taking full responsibility for the way the demonstration was policed, as Ground Commander. When Rob complained about the way in which he was restrained, Woods said that he would expect no less from his men, who were trained to prevent any arrestee from reaching for their pockets. When Rob complained that no action had been taken in Trafalgar Square, where two cannabis plants were openly displayed on the speakers' platform, Mr Woods said that may well have been the case and that he couldn't remember the precise details of that demo, as he polices about one a fortnight. "I take that on the chin" he said, twice, miming a punch to the face(!)
Hilariously, Rob repeatedly thanked the policemen for arresting him and thereby giving him this opportunity to present his arguments to the jury. Then it was lunch time and I left to attend Tony Taylor's trial. It's likely that Rob's case will be concluded tomorrow, when the Constable who searched his Glastonbury home will give evidence against him. The verdict should certainly come on Wednesday at the latest.
Tony Taylor's court appearance consisted of a 'mention', a meeting before the trial, which properly starts tomorrow. I arrived too late to hear the details of the indictment, but observed that the prosecution was in total disarray, with a stand-in prosecutor admitting that he knew little about the case. A jury was empanelled: five women and seven men, with some serious-looking individuals among them and a couple of pretty girls. The judge (didn't catch his name) took care to explain to them their duty not to discuss out side the court what could well be a very newsworthy case! Then the court was adjourned until tomorrow and Tony went into a meeting with his legal representatives, presumably to determine which of the extensive list of possible witnesses will actually be called. Chances are the trial will last until Friday. Tomorrow, they'll be in Court 20 (in the annex to the main court building), moving to Court 15 on Wednesday. If you're planning to attend, Snaresbrook tube is handiest for the court (not Wanstead, as previously stated, which entails a bloody long walk!)
Courtesy of Russell Cronin, 13 Nov 02
I didn't arrive at (Central Guildhall) court until around 3pm, in time to catch the end of the Judge Karston's summary of the case against Free Cannabis, whom he described as a very polite man who obviously was highly principled and had conducted himself admirably. Then he sent the jury out to deliberate their verdict.
Apparently, the judge had appeared remarkably sympathetic, even pointing out to the jury a piece of the written evidence that Rob had presented to the court as being particularly interesting. Rob had raised some eyebrows with his invocation to Shiva before delivering his final address to the jury. He told them that the judge was bound to direct them to find him guilty, whereupon Mr Karston had interrupted to say that wasn't necessarily the case. Rob asserted that it was the jury's right to deliver a perverse verdict of not guilty; the judge said it wasn't their 'right' but it was within their power to do so.
BTW, the Human Rights judgement I referred to yesterday was the Court of Appeal Judgement in R vs. Paul Taylor of Monday 23rd October 2001. Paragraph 14 of the judgement reads, in part,: [The judge said] the [UN] Conventions of 1961 and 1998… provided powerful evidence of an international consensus that an unqualified ban on the possession of cannabis with intent to supply, is necessary to combat public health and public safety dangers arising from such drugs. The same conclusion, he said, applied in relation to Article 8.2 and the restrictions it imposed on the Article 8.1 right to respect for private life. This is the ruling that is being used to dismiss any defence in a UK court under the Human Rights Act 1998, including Jerry Ham’s appeal against his conviction for cannabis possession.
Andy had come from Snaresbrook, where the case against Tony Taylor had failed to get started! Tony arrived with a legion of witnesses (at least a dozen) and a couple of Experts from GW Pharmaceuticals: Dr Willy Notcutt of James Paget Hospital, Great Yarmouth, who has been conducting the GW trials and a chap called Iverson*, who isn't mentioned on their web site. The prosecution again failed to turn up! A lone copper arrived three hours late and failed to bring with him the video of the bust that constitutes a key element of the prosecution case. Apparently, he looked a bit sheepish! Andy reckoned that this is a sign of Police reluctance to prosecute the case, but what's certain is that nothing much happened!
We stood around chatting for an hour or so, with Rob performing a handstand in the court and others taking photographs and eating (raw) food in blatant contravention of the 'rules'. Rob hasn't consumed pot for two months and talked about the amazing dreams he's now having; most of the folks in the public gallery were Raw and they all looked amazing! The energy was very positive and communicated itself to everybody in the court. The officials were cordial, despite being told by one guy that the reason he was wealthy enough to take a cab to Fresh 'n' Wild at lunch time was that "we're rich because we work for the goddess; you're impoverished because you oil the shitstem" (or words to that effect). Around 4.20 (!) the jury was recalled and discharged for the evening. One guy in the gallery swore that a young black female jurist winked at him!
The verdict will come down tomorrow morning in Court 7 @ the Guildhall (across Parliament Sq. from Parliament), no earlier than 10.30am. Tony's trial may just kick off tomorrow morning in court 15 @ Snaresbrook. Or the prosecution may fail to turn up again and the judge might get bored, dismiss the case and send everybody home;-)
* Note: "Iverson" referred to - maybe Prof Leslie Iverson, Pharmacologist
Oxford University author of "Chemistry of Marijuana"
Courtesy of Russell Cronin, 14 Nov 02
The cannabis movement scored a double victory in London courts yesterday, Nov.13, where charges against Tony Taylor pertaining to his running a medicinal cannabis dispensary were dismissed and the jury in the trial of Free Rob Cannabis failed to reach a verdict!
Both trials were scheduled to start on Monday - Armistice Day. At Central Guildhall, Free Rob Cannabis was representing himself in his fourth Crown Court trial, indicted on three counts: offering cannabis for sale at an auction he conducted at Speakers' corner on 29 September 2001; possessing two addressed envelopes of cannabis with intent to supply it to the named MS patients; possessing some cannabis that was found when police searched his home in Glastonbury.
At Snaresbrook, Tony Taylor was charged with dispensing cannabis from his premises in Caledonian Road, which were raided by Customs officers in June, 2001, following the delivery of 13 kilo-weight packages of Swiss grass that had been piling up at the post office. Tony had admitted to the press that he dispensed cannabis to around 250 customers, each of whom supplied a letter of recommendation from their doctor and signed an agreement to appear as witnesses in Tony's defence in the event of his prosecution.
The Free Cannabis trial was preceded by a discussion between Judge Karsten, Ms Strickland for the Crown and Free Rob Cannabis, representing himself. The Judge struggled to comprehend exactly what Mr Cannabis hoped to achieve in his trial, bearing in mind that he didn't dispute the evidence against him, and pointed out that any attempt to invoke article 9.1 of the European Declaration of Human Rights was bound to fail in the light the Court of Appeal Judgement in R vs. Paul Taylor of October 2001. That judgement declared that 'the [UN] Conventions of 1961 and 1998… provided powerful evidence of an international consensus that an unqualified ban on the possession of cannabis with intent to supply is necessary to combat public health and public safety dangers arising from such drugs.'
Free Rob explained that defence would consist of a statement of his beliefs with regard to cannabis, a brief discussion of the origins of prohibition, and an assertion of his Human Rights. Judge Karsten summarised by saying that Mr Cannabis would admit the facts of the case against him, but direct the jury to deliver a 'perverse verdict' of not guilty on the grounds that the Misuse of Drugs Act is an unjust law. Whereupon, the judge would advise the jury that they should judge the evidence presented to them in the light of the law as it stands.
That clear, the jury was empanelled and the trial began with testimony from senior police officers who were in charge when Rob was arrested. They cheerfully admitted forcibly restraining Mr Cannabis, even though he didn't offer any resistance, and subjecting him to an intimate search, even though he readily admitted that there was cannabis in his bag. A video was shown of the auction: 7g organic, Swiss-grown Hindu Kush weed with a glass pipe to smoke it in went for £70; 5g pollinator hash from Switzerland, plus a pipe, made £52; 4g Afghani hash with a pipe fetched £55...
At Snaresbrook, the prosecution failed to turn up to pursue the case against Tony Taylor. A stand-in barrister admitted that he wasn't properly acquainted with the case and didn't know the whereabouts of a video tape that was shot at the time of the raid on Tony's Hemp Corner. The defence claimed that this tape would demonstrate that the cannabis dispensary was an entirely medicinal concern, as it showed filing cabinets containing records, etc. The prosecution agreed to produce this vital piece of evidence before the trial began. Then a jury was empanelled and sent home.
On Tuesday, nothing much happened at Tony's trial. The defence arrived with up to a dozen of Tony's patients and a couple of Experts attached to GW Pharmaceuticals: Dr Willy Notcutt of James Paget Hospital, Great Yarmouth, who has been conducting the GW trials; and Leslie Iverson, visiting professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, who was a specialist adviser to the House of Lords science and technology committee. Once again, the prosecution failed to turn up! After about three hours, a lone copper appeared to explain that the police were having trouble laying hands on the crucial video tape.
At the Guildhall, the case against Free Rob was concluded on Tuesday with the evidence of a policeman from Glastonbury, who had searched his house and confiscated his girlfriend's life savings from her wardrobe, but ignored a bowl full of odd bits of cannabis in the middle of the floor in Rob's room. Then Rob prefaced his defence with an invocation to Shiva, which no doubt brought a novel element to the proceedings. I didn't witness his performance, but arrived around 3pm, just before the jury was sent out to consider their verdict. Around 4.20 (!) the jury was recalled and discharged for the evening.
The next day, the members of the jury continued to ponder the case of Regina vs. Free Rob Cannabis while the Queen herself arrived in the square outside for the state opening of Parliament. At around 12.15, they asked to be reminded of the oath they took to judge the case on the merits of the evidence presented to them. Judge Karsten pointed out that Rob has not presented any evidence that contradicted the indictment - he admitted it - and that prosecution couldn't argue against the evidence Rob had presented in order to demonstrate his belief that the law against cannabis is unjust, because the Crown in obliged to prosecute the law as it stands. Mr Karsten said it was not the business of the courts to challenge the law and that the jury didn't have the 'right' to reach a perverse verdict, but he conceded that it is within their power to do so.
At 12.50, the jury were called back into court and asked if they'd reached a unanimous verdict, which they hadn't, so the Judge said he would accept a majority verdict and adjourned for lunch. Rob's supporters learned from Snaresbrook that the case against Tony Taylor had collapsed. Police had failed to produce their video tape of the raid and had also lost the packaging that the cannabis sent to Tony from Switzerland was wrapped in. The defence wanted to produce this in order to demonstrate that 13 kilos of cannabis represented several weeks' supply and wasn't a single consignment. But it had disappeared. So the judge dismissed the case and instructed the jury to find a verdict of Not Guilty!
To reach a majority verdict, ten of the twelve jurors must agree. If more than two jurors dissent from the majority view, then it is a 'hung jury' and no verdict has been reached. In which case, it's up to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether or not to proceed with a retrial. Soon after 3pm, after they had been deliberating the case against Free Cannabis for a full 24 hours, the members of the jury were called back into court and asked if they had reached a majority verdict? They hadn't. So Judge Karsten declared No Verdict, and dismissed the jury.
'Dope' cafe go-ahead
Lancaster Evening Telegraph, Friday 15 Nov 2002
A COFFEE shop that has been used by cannabis smokers is set to be given approval to operate by councillors.
A planning application for the coffee shop above Studio One tattoo parlour in Warner Street, Accrington will go before Hyndburn Council's development services committee on Wednesday.
Members have been recommended to approve it with the only condition being that hot takeaway food is not sold from the premises.
The application for change of use from an office to the tattoo parlour and coffee shop, was submitted by Frank Mac, who runs both businesses, after he was told by the council he needed permission.
The tattoo studio has been open for a more than a year, but the coffee shop opened in September. Mr Mac does not sell cannabis but allows users to smoke it on the premises.
So far only one letter of objection has been received, saying: "We are against this application as we feel that especially as a result of recent events the proposed use is not in keeping with the type of premises and nature of premises in the area."
It added there were already two other cafes in the area.
But a report to be considered by councillors said there were no policy objections to the application.
It added: "The objection to the application alludes to the recent Press reports regarding the use of the cafe as an Amsterdam-style coffee bar.
"However, it is not a matter for the local planning authority to determine this application on grounds that it may be used for illegal purposes. If the proposed cafe is used for any illegal purposes this would be a matter for the police. Objections to the change of use on the grounds that there areadequate facilities in the area is not a planning consideration and cannot be
taken into account in determining the application.
The development plan and amenity issues are relevant considerations and I consider that there are no planning grounds for the rejection of the proposed uses at this property."
The coffee shop was raided by police last month, and Mr Mac was so outraged he pledged to fill Accrington with bikers at a proposed pro-cannabis rally. No details have yet been announced.
The coffee shop has been given the backing of Councillors David Myles and John Burke, who say such ventures would take cannabis off the streets and put it in a controlled environment. Neither were available for comment at the time of going to press.
Inspector Phil Cottam, Accrington's police commander, said today: "We will continue to monitor the activities at the cafe, and Mr Mac, to the best of our abilities, and that will be ongoing whether planning permission is given or not."
Mr Mac declined to comment.
East Lancashire's first Amsterdam-style coffee shop, the Real Jerk takeaway, in Bolton Road, Blackburn, closed last month after owner David Wilson claimed it had become too popular.
Mr Wilson, who allowed people to smoke cannabis but didn't sell it, pledged to open a bigger and better coffee shop.
Drugs squad storms cafe
Huw Borland, The Argus (Worthing), Thursday 28 Nov 2002
Customers were questioned by drugs squad officers as police raided a shop and cafe run by a cannabis campaigner.
Police equipped with bulletproof vests, helmets and battering rams rushed into the cafe and a strong smell of burning herbs and incense spread into the street.
More than 30 officers were involved and seized a substance believed to be herbal cannabis.
More than 20 customers were spoken to by officers during the raid at the Quantum Leaf cafe in the back room of Bongchuffa in Rowlands Road, Worthing.
The shop is run by Chris Baldwin, who stood as a Legalise Cannabis Alliance candidate in East Worthing and Shoreham in the last General Election.
Bongchuffa sells a variety of smoking paraphernalia, including pipes and cigarette papers.
Quantum Leaf is based on coffee shops in Amsterdam. A display cabinet with what looks like an array of different types of marijuana is fixed to a wall.
Police raided the property
following complaints from nearby residents.
Inspector Allan Lowe, in charge of the raid, said the exercise had been successful.
He said: "It is important for public confidence in Worthing that we do take action of this kind.
"It is very important we are methodical and meticulous and that is what weare doing. No one in there is causing difficulties. We are making sure everyone is searched."
Mike Allday, who provides security at the coffee shop, said: "I provide personal protection for the owner because he is a disabled fellow and obviously a target. I also enforce the rules of no under-18s, no dealing and no alcohol.
"I think all this is unnecessary because it was a bit heavy-handed. We could have put bars on the windows but we have not done that. It's not that sort of place. We are not trying to do any harm."
Mr Baldwin was unavailable for comment.
A police spokesman said no one had been charged but 12 people had been arrested and were helping with inquiries.
He said a large quantity of cannabis had been recovered.
Cannabis raid boss defiant
Huw Borland, The Argus, Sussex, Friday 29 Nov 2002
The manager of a Dutch-style coffee shop has vowed to keep on trading and said: "They'll have to lock me up to stop me."
Cannabis campaigner Chris Baldwin was one of 12 arrested and questioned when 30 officers raided The Quantum Leaf in Rowlands Road, Worthing.
Today, despite attracting the attention of the law, the shop, behind smoking accessory shop Bongchuffa, reopened for business.
Mr Baldwin, who also owns the accessory shop, said: "We lost a bit of money in the raid and quite a lot of cannabis was taken away but that's okay.
"The most amazing thing about it is that after the raid, 12 people who are part of it formed the opinion we would open as normal. I have never seen them on such a high - we are even more determined to stay open."
The cafe's digital display, which had read "152 days and still not busted," was updated to "Busted at last but still open."
Mr Baldwin, who was the Legalise Cannabis Alliance candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham in the last general election, declined to give exact details of the cafe's operation because of the legal action.
But he said: "We are running a Dutch-style coffee shop - make want you want from that.
"Hundreds of people come here and smoke. Whether they bust us or the law changes, they have got to lock me up if they want to stop me."
The campaigner said the cafe's profits were used to subsidise people with disabilities, help fund the Legalise Cannabis Alliance and support community projects - the cafe donated UKP50 to Worthing's Christmas lights appeal.
Mr Baldwin said: "A lot of our disabled clients do not have a social life outside this place.
"We had our seats done with a wheelchair point so they do not have to feel like a second-class citizen when chairs have to be moved for them.
We are here to stay. If they move us on from this place, we will find another and start again. The camaraderie here is beautiful and so strong."
The raid, which happened on Wednesday, followed a number of complaints to police by nearby residents.
Mr Baldwin said: "It's up to the
police. We just carry on regardless but I think it was pointless. Our
relationship with the community has been fantastic.
"I do not know how many called in to complain but I think you'll find even more people want us here. I believe society needs coffee shops. One or two is not enough for a town of this size. Just like pubs, it is a place of leisure to go to for people who do not want to drink alcohol."
A 55-year-old woman customer from Worthing said she smokes cannabis to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis.
She said: "I smoke it regularly because I suffer pain in my back. It allows me more movement. It's a relief because pain killers only do so much.
I think this cafe is marvellous because they are helping people who need help. The raid was a shame because they are helping the disabled."
Mr Baldwin has another Dutch-style coffee shop in east Worthing.
First Dutch cannabis cafe marks 30th anniversary
Paul Gallagher, Reuters, Friday 29 Nov 2002
AMSTERDAM, Nov 29 (Reuters) - It's 1972. Step inside the abandoned Amsterdam bakery where pot-smoking squatters are playing table soccer.
Meet Wernard and his hippie friends, pioneers of the first Dutch cannabis cafe.
The 30th anniversary of the opening of the "Mellow Yellow" cafe is being commemorated in the Netherlands on Friday when cannabis smokers pay tribute to a taboo-busting enterprise which spearheaded the spread of the renowned Dutch "Coffee Shop".
The cafe thrived for six years before it closed down. But by 1978 other coffee shops were opening in a city which was a mecca for anarchists, hippies, squatters and drop-outs. Toleration of cannabis grew and coffee shops blossomed.
Three decades after "Mellow Yellow" opened on the banks of the Amstel river, Amsterdam remains the one city in the world where people can wander into a special cafe and buy a small amount of cannabis without fearing arrest or prosecution.
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Dutch cannabis entrepreneurs and connoisseurs are throwing a party in a sports hall in the sedate town of Haarlem, near Amsterdam, on Friday in tribute to the founder of "Mellow Yellow", Wernard Bruining.
"It's going to be a nice reunion for pioneers and old cannabis souls," party organiser and coffee shop owner Nol van Schaik told Reuters.
Today there are about 800 coffee shops in the Netherlands and in Amsterdam there is a booming trade in the sale of marijuana and hashish to tourists visiting a city renowned for its museums and red light district.
The Dutch decision to turn a blind eye to the sale of small amounts of cannabis by licensed coffee shops evolved in the 1970s and developed over the following decades, cementing the country's reputation for liberalism and tolerance.
"Soft drugs will never go away. I think in the next 20 to 30 years the rest of Europe will become a lot like Holland," said 52-year-old Bruining. "The basis of tolerance is that you avoid annoying other people. You are basically free in Holland to do what you want to do but don't annoy
other people," said Bruining, who now works as a tour guide.
The "Mellow Yellow", which started as a haunt for long-haired friends sharing a joint, ran the gauntlet of police raids as eager pot smokers queued around the block to get inside. But the tide did not take long to turn.
In 1976 the Dutch government introduced legislation distinguishing between hard drugs and soft drugs including cannabis. Possession of up to 30 grams was decriminalised in 1978.
Dutch drugs policy continued evolving over the next 25 years with a strong focus on fighting heroin addiction in the 1980s.
In 1987, Amsterdam started providing clean syringes to combat the spread of AIDS among intravenous drug users with the number of drug related deaths falling sharply.
While cannabis technically remains illegal in the Netherlands, its use and sale is now tolerated under strict conditions imposed by the government. The emphasis is on keeping users of soft and hard drugs apart.
"Cannabis is not risk-free, but it is certainly not more harmful than alcohol or tobacco," the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction said.
International opinion on the health dangers of cannabis and the Dutch policy of toleration remain divided. British doctors said this month that smoking cannabis increases the odds of suffering depression and schizophrenia.
But cannabis also has a long history of medicinal use. The Netherlands last year became the second country after Canada to allow the medical use of marijuana.
US: Study Says Marijuana Does Not Lead to Hard Drugs
Reuters, Monday 02 Dec 2002
WASHINGTON ( Reuters ) - Countering a basic principle of American anti-drug policies, an independent U.S. study concluded on Monday that marijuana use does not lead teenagers to experiment with hard drugs like heroin or cocaine.
The study by the private, nonprofit RAND Drug Policy Research Center rebutted the theory that marijuana acts as a so-called gateway drug to more harmful narcotics, a key argument against legalizing pot in the United States.
The researchers did not advocate easing restrictions in marijuana, but questioned the focus on this substance in drug control efforts.
Using data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse between 1982 and 1994, the study concluded teenagers who took hard drugs were predisposed to do so whether they tried marijuana first or not.
"Kids get their first opportunity to use marijuana years before they get their first exposure to hard drugs," said Andrew Morral, lead author of the RAND study.
"Marijuana is not a gateway drug. It's just the first thing kids often come across."
Morral said 50 percent of U.S. teenagers had access to marijuana by the age of 16, while the majority had no exposure to cocaine, heroin or hallucinogens until they were 20.
The study, published in the British journal Addiction, does not advocate legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, which has been linked to side-effects including short-term memory loss.
But given limited resources, Morral said the U.S. government should reconsider the prominence of marijuana in its much-publicized "war on drugs."
"To a certain extent we are diverting resources away from hard drug problems," he said. "Spending money on marijuana control may not be having downstream consequences on the use of hard drugs."
Researchers say predisposition to drug use has been linked to genetic factors and one's environment, including family dynamics and the availability of drugs in the neighborhood.
Police chiefs drop 'three strikes' cannabis policy
Ananova, Sunday 08 Dec 2002
Chief police officers have dropped plans to introduce a "three strikes and you're out" policy on cannabis, it is reported.
The Association of Chief Police Officers will abandon the tactic they announced just three months ago, the Police Review magazine says.
The plan was in response to Home Office plans to downgrade the drug from Class B to Class C.
This magazine says ACPO has bowed to pressure from rank-and-file officers to retain their right to arrest users on the first occasion they are caught with the drug.
Mick Barker, a member of the ACPO drugs working party, says the three strikes rule would "bring into total disrepute the authority and discretion of a police officer".
It would make police intervention into a cannabis offence "nonsensical", he added.
"The next draft will be altered to support - indeed openly state - the discretion of the officer is sacrosanct in respect of an arrest for this specific offence and is primary to any published guidelines," said Mr Barker.
The three strikes policy was first outlined in September by chairman of the ACPO committee, the Met's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman.
It said the first two occasions someone was caught with up to three grammes of drug would lead to a formal warning and confiscation. A third incident in any 12-month period would lead to arrest, the original guidelines said.
ACPO has made it clear that when the updated rules are published in the new year officers will be told to arrest dope users only in exceptional circumstances. The measures are expected to come into effect next July.
Cafe drugs raid No2
Huw Borland, The Argus, Worthing, Thursday 12 Dec 2002
A cannabis campaigner's Amsterdam-style coffee shops in Worthing were raided during a police crackdown on drugs.
Operation Thor involved about 30 officers in a series of raids across Worthing, targeting people believed to be involved in drugs, burglary, violence and vehicle crimes.
Among the 15 addresses visited yesterday were the cafes owned by Chris Baldwin, who stood as the Legalise Cannabis Alliance candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham in the last General Election.
The Quantum Leaf cafe in Rowlands Road and Buddy's Hydroponics cafe in Brougham Road were both raided at 11.30am.
Officers arrested Mr Baldwin and one other person at Quantum Leaf on suspicion of drugs-related offences. Another person was arrested at Buddy's for suspected possession of cannabis.
Quantum Leaf is based in the back room of the Bongchuffa smoking accessories shop.
Police had previously raided the cafe on November 27, making 12 arrests. Mr Baldwin reopened the cafe the following day and said he was determined to keep serving customers.
Chief Inspector Ross Whitfield, Worthing's new district commander, said yesterday: "The cannabis cafe has been raided again because we cannot condone people who have such a flagrant disregard for the law. Our aim is to put them before a court, so the court can decide their
Legalise Cannabis Alliance campaigner Sarah Chalk, who was working in Quantum Leaf at the time of yesterday's raid, promised the cafe would remain open.
She said: "This coffee shop is part of the community. People love this place. It is part of what they like about Rowlands Road."
Before officers rushed into the cafes, a number of dawn raids had taken place throughout the town.
A police spokesman said a total of 12 people had been arrested during Operation Thor, including two suspected burglars. Another target was arrested on suspicion of possessing crack cocaine.
Mr Whitfield said the timing of the raids, just before Christmas, was intentional.
He said: "We want to lock these people up for the Christmas period so the rest of Worthing has a pleasant and happy one. This is one of many days we'll be doing in the future. We are trying to
create the culture for the people that commit crime and mess up other people's lives, that we're going to do the same to them."
UK: Cannabis cafe vows to stay open
The Argus (Worthing), Friday 13 Dec 2002
THE OWNER of Worthing's cannabis cafe has vowed to keep the business open despite it being raided by more than 30 police officers, with 12 arrests.
The Bongchuffa in Rowlands Road re-opened just a day after police some in riot gear stormed the cafe. In fact, on Tuesday it was named as the headquarters of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance.
Pro-cannabis campaigner Chris Baldwin, who owns the site, plus another called Good Buddy in East Worthing, said: "The feeling among the people involved with the cafe is it cannot be closed down. Since the raid, there has been an incredible camaraderie everyone has been on an amazing high, which is an irony. We had been waiting for the raid all these months and it
is almost a relief."
When the Herald went to press yesterday, a reader telephoned to say the town centre shop was closed.
However, Chris emphasised this was only for a couple of days and was due to an unforeseen staffing problem.
UK: High Noon For cannabis cafe
Paul Holden, The Argus, Worthing, Thursday 19 Dec 2002
A controversial Amsterdam-style cafe is set to close by Christmas Day following a series of police raids and court action.
Chris Baldwin, who runs Bongchuffa and the Quantum Leaf in Worthing, has been served with an eviction notice by the letting agents and must be out by December 25.
Last night he said: "There's going to be a lot of people in this town bitterly disappointed if this project fails."
Bongchuffa, in Rowlands Road, where the Quantum Leaf Cafe is also based, has twice been raided by police who arrested 14 people, including Mr Baldwin. There was a demonstration outside Worthing Magistrates Court by pro-cannabis campaigners on Monday, when one of those arrested appeared on a drugs-related charge.
Chief Inspector Russ Whitfield, district commander of Worthing police, said: "I had an informal meeting with Chris Baldwin yesterday to discuss the future of the cafe.
"He stated that because of police action and the letting agents, the café would be closing down. I am pleased he has acted reasonably and therefore prevented future anguish to himself and the other residents of Worthing."
The eviction notice was served by Spratt's estate agents, bringing six months of trading to an end.
Mr Baldwin said: "They have told us to be out by Christmas Day but that is debatable. I am disappointed, of course, but they haven't won yet.
"For all those against the cafe, there is an awful lot of people for it. My resolve is still strong but I cannot say what is going to happen next. I have had no problems with the police. They have behaved impeccably towards me. I have not been very well lately with the work and the stress
and everything else."
He was unable to say what would happen to a similar shop, Buddy's Hydroponics cafe in Brougham Road, Worthing, which has also been raided.
After the raids, Mr Baldwin said: "They will have to lock me up to stop me. We are here to stay. If they move us on, we will find another and start again. The camaraderie here is beautiful and so strong."
He said the shop was used by many disabled people who smoked cannabis to
UK: Four arrests in raids on cannabis cafes
Chris Gray, The Independent, Thursday 19 Dec 2002
Police have arrested four people in a crackdown on Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes.
Scotland Yard made the arrests at two cafes in Camden, north London, after keeping them under surveillance for nearly two months.
Police said the cafes, Amsterdam of London and Ian's Hemp Bar, sold legal paraphernalia associated with cannabis but officers suspected drug dealers were operating at both. About 25 officers raided the cafes and seized 14 wraps of marijuana, two marijuana grinders and a small amount of cannabis resin from Amsterdam of London. Two men, aged 29 and 38, and a 21-year-old woman were arrested.
However, the cafe was still open for business yesterday, and a member of staff described it as a "head/smart" shop, which sold "smart products" that gave legal highs.
At Ian's Hemp bar, a 31-year-old man was arrested for possession of cannabis. During the raid, a samurai sword and lock-knife were seized.
Police hope the raids, on Tuesday, will counter impressions that their policy towards drug dealers has been relaxed in the wake of government plans to reclassify cannabis. From July next year, cannabis will be a class C, rather than class B drug, and police will no longer have automatic powers to arrest people for possession.
Cannabis campaign steps up
Worthing Herald, Thursday 19 Dec 2002
CAMPAIGNERS who want to see cannabis legalised gathered outside Worthing Magistrates' Court on Monday to protest against the arrest of a cannabis user.
The protesters, who use the Quantum Leaf cannabis cafe behind Bongchuffa in Rowlands Road, turned out to support Philip Lockwood who was arrested for possession of the class B drug during a raid on the cannabis cafe at Buddy's Hydroponics in East Worthing last week.
People of all ages met outside the court for a "peaceful smoke" and to display banners supporting legalisation of cannabis.
A strong smell of the drug was present outside the court and Winston Matthews, who was at the raid on Bongcuffa, was using a bong - a large pipe - which he had taken from him by the police. He was searched and then arrested.
The protest was seen as an open act of defiance after back-to-back police raids on cannabis cafes in Worthing.
Reporters who arrived to cover the case were asked by members of the group if they "wanted a joint." All declined the offer.
Other campaigners were also searched by police as they gathered on the court steps before the case.
Green Party candidate, John Dwyer, was at the court to show his support for the protesters. He said: "I think people have a right to choose. If they do not want to go in the cafe then they do not have to."
The campaigners said they were concerned about the amount of money spent on raiding the cafes.
Sarah Chalk, who was outside court, said: "They must have spent a lot of money policing these things. We have no grief with them but it is a government issue that needs sorting out. They could have been out catching people for serious drugs and crimes."
Ironically, the future of Worthing's two cannabis cafes was in doubt this week after an eviction notice was served on the Rowlands Road cafe.
Letting Agents C G Spratt and Son have told the Quantum Leaf cafe, behind Bongchuffa, to leave the premises.
Chris Baldwin has remained defiant throughout the two police raids, but he says he is now unsure what is going to happen next.
He said: "I am not very happy about it but such is life. From the moment I opened the cafes I have not known what is going to happen from one day to the next. I cannot tell you what is going to happen next."
Chief Inspector Russ Whitfield said: "I had an informal meeting with Chris Baldwin on Tuesday to discuss the future of the cafe. The cafe will be closing down. I am pleased that he has acted reasonably and therefore prevented future agitation to him and other residents of Worthing."
Cannabis campaigner to stand for council
Huw Borland, The Argus, Worthing, Friday 27 Dec 2002
A pro-cannabis campaigner whose Amsterdam-style coffee shops were raided by police is planning to launch another bid to enter politics.
Activist Chris Baldwin intends to stand in Worthing Borough Council elections next May and is confident he can "at least snap at the heels" of more established councillors.
Both Mr Baldwin and his friend and fellow Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) member Phil Lockwood, from Worthing, plan to start campaigning for the Heene and Selden ward seats, where Mr Baldwin has been running two coffeeshops.
Quantum Leaf cafe, in Rowlands
Road and Buddy's Hydroponics cafe, in Brougham Road, were raided by police on
December 11 as part of an operation to reduce crime in area. Officers arrested
several people for drug-related offences, including Mr Baldwin.
He has since been served an eviction notice for the Rowlands Road cafe by letting agents Spratt's.
Mr Baldwin, LCA candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham in the last General Election, said he was looking forward to another political tussle.
Mr Baldwin said: "We're definitely aiming for Heene and Selden wards. Phil Lockwood and I both stood in the last General Election, Phil tried for a seat in Yorkshire and is very experienced.
I got 920 votes in that election and I know it's different to a local election but I found out the last councillor to be elected in Heene got in on 920 votes.
There is a lot of support in the town for the coffee shops and for us personally and we have a chance of at least snapping at the heels and worrying the other parties."
The Quantum Leaf's eviction notice said Mr Baldwin and his colleagues had to be out of the site by Christmas Day.
Staff went ahead with a Christmas Day charity event for the homeless because it had been planned weeks before.
Mr Baldwin, whose customers included people using cannabis for medicinal purposes, said: "We served up soup and coffee for the town's homeless for four hours."
'I'm standing firm on cannabis cafe plan'
Gareth Hughes, The Daily Post (Wales), Friday 27 Dec 2002
THE man behind the controversial plan to open North Wales' first cannabis cafe is adamant that the scheme will go ahead.
In the meantime the Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether to drop the charges against him after his involvement in another similar cafe.
Jeffrey Ditchfield, from Henllan, near Denbigh, announced earlier this year that he planned to open the Dutch-style cafe in Rhyl's West End. He went to Amsterdam, where he was trained by millionaire Nol van Schaik, who runs cannabis cafes.
It was originally hoped to have the Rhyl premises open by May but for various reasons it has been delayed. The proposal caused a storm of protest among councillors and politicians, and the Chief Constable of North Wales Richard Brunstrom said that if the scheme went ahead Mr Ditchfield would be arrested within five minutes of it opening.
Yesterday, Mr Ditchfield, who angered North Wales Police by buying a website domain titled northwalespolice.com, said: "We are definitely going ahead with the cafe, but there have been problems with the proposed premises which came to light during a search. "We are currently looking for differ-ent premises in the West End and have a few in mind." He was due to appear at Manchester Crown Court last week on charges of possessing cannabis and possessing the drug with intent to supply.
He was arrested earlier in the year at the cannabis cafe in Stockport, which has been raided several times by the police.
But at a pre-trial hearing last week the CPS said they did not intend to pursue the case, but asked for it to remain on the file. However, on Mr Ditchfield's insistence, his barrister objected to the move.
"If the CPS feel I have broken the law then I should be prosecuted, otherwise the charges should be dropped. They can't have it both ways," he said.
CPS lawyers agreed to reconsider the matter before the next hearing.
Head's 'Licence Drug' Call
Herald Express, Devon, Thursday 02 Jan 2003
The headteacher of a Torbay school which suspended four pupils for using cannabis has backed moves to legalise the drug.
Torquay Boys Grammar School boss Roy Pike has suggested licensing the substance through chemists to over-16s.
He suggests the move may free up police resources to tackle more serious drug problems blighting the South Devon.
He said: "If we accept that we have lost the battle against cannabis then surely we should be looking at some way of controlling it. We could license cannabis through chemists in pure form to the over-16s. This would enable the police with limited resources to get after the
hard stuff." Mr Pike's comments come three months after the school removed four pupils from class for using cannabis.
The quartet, who cannot be identified, are now back in school after going through a counselling programme as well as meeting police and social services workers.
Torbay's Youth Offending Team and the school's personal, social and health education experts were also called in.
Elsewhere, dangers posed by unlawful adults also present concern as schools, police and health services struggle to stifle the drug supply chain into Torbay. Mr Pike added: "Torbay has all the problems of an inner city without being an inner city."
Meanwhile, Mr Pike is aware of the debate surrounding use of cannabis as a "gateway" drug towards youngsters using harder substances.
Controversy also surrounded recent Government moves to declassify cannabis from a Class B to a Class C substance. But mixed messages being given to students are threatening to cloud
Mr Pike said: "The trouble with cannabis is that, if it is made legal, a young person may get into it and get numbed to such a point they lose touch with reality.
The four suspended pupils were expected to sign contracts of behaviour when their suspensions expired.
The contracts involve promises not to repeat their behaviour in or out of the school.
Mr Pike's backing for the legalisation of cannabis follows a two-month blitz by police, helped by the Herald Express Shop The Pushers campaign, which led to 50 arrests and seizures with a street value of £250,000.
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