First a cat café, now a cannabis café: Green councillor in Kent holds public meeting to set up a marijuana venue in Thanet


Kent could get its own Amsterdam-style cannabis café if a bid launched by a Green councillor is successful.

Thanet Councillor Ian Driver believes popular opinion is moving in favour of the venue, which would allow users to smoke the class B drug.

Last month Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said that the UK should be at the heart of the debate about alternatives to prohibition.

Mr Driver, who has admitted to using cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy in the past, wants to form a group to come up with a business case for the café and is looking at possible sites in Margate and Ramsgate.

However he faces opposition from Kent police, who have refused to take part in a public meeting, to be held in Thanet on Saturday to discuss the proposal.

Speakers at the meeting will include Professor Alex Stevens from the University of Kent, The Kent Cannabis Consortium and the UK Cannabis Social Clubs. Anne Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, was invited but declined to attend.

Mr Driver said: “I am very disappointed that Anne Barnes will not be present. The debate about drugs and policing is becoming much more topical and important. Senior police officers such as Chief Constable Mike Barton of the Durham Constabulary and senior politicians like Nick Clegg, are calling for an informed national debate about drugs policy.

"Just two weeks ago a Government e-petition sponsored by Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, calling for a review of UK drugs laws received more than 135,000 signatures. But Anne Barnes chooses to bury her head in the sand and duck out of a very important discussion about police related policy.”

The councillor said he had been “inundated with messages from local cannabis users who said they will be coming to the meeting”.

Mrs Barnes said the campaign would need to lobby for a law change. She added: “One of my roles is to hold the Chief Constable to account for upholding the law. I simply cannot turn a blind eye to this. We live in a democracy and if people want the law changed on the use of cannabis then they really need to lobby their local MP.”

Plans to open a cannabis café in Manchester’s Northern Quarter were quashed in January following objections by police.

Colin Davies, 56, planned to open the New Way Café, which would allow customers to smoke the Class B substance on the premises. The club would be members only, charging a £35 annual fee and the sale of the drug was to be strictly prohibited until such a time as it was legally permitted.

Greater Manchester Police said it lacked the resources to ensure that the proposed café was operating within the law and was not encouraging criminal elements. Mr Davies plans to lobby local councillors for their support in reviving the proposal.

Cannabis was reclassified from Class C to a Class B drug five years ago meaning a higher maximum jail sentence for possession.

The then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said there was “uncertainty at the least” on the future impact on young people's mental health as a result of using cannabis.

Following a visit to Colombia, where he discussed that country’s “war on drugs”, Nick Clegg said: “I want to end the tradition where politicians only talk about drugs reform when they have left office because they fear the political consequences.”

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home