Cannabis smokers protest after arrest of cafe owner

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The reefers were being passed around again outside Britain's first cannabis café yesterday, 24 hours after its proprietor was arrested and marched away by police.

A handful of people smoked joints outside the "Dutch Experience" in Stockport, Greater Manchester, and at least 15 gathered inside again with 44-year-old Colin Davies, who criticised police officers for moving in on Saturday to arrest him before the ribbon across the café's threshold had even been cut.

"It's a disgrace, treating ill people like this and forcing them out," said Mr Davies, who has smoked cannabis to relieve pain since he broke his spine four years ago and insists his aim is to make medicinal cannabis available to all those who need it.

The immaculate lay-out of the premises includes furniture shipped in from Amsterdam's own founding cannabis café.

Mr Davies was released on bail by Greater Manchester Police in the early hours of yesterday, pending the scientific examination of several ounces of cannabis found in the café, his flat and a Dutch-registered car. He has already admitted the plant was in his possession.

Five other people, including four Dutch nationals, were questioned on suspicion of being concerned with the supply of a Class B drug and bailed.

Lawyers and friends of Mr Davies, who handed the Queen a cannabis bouquet 12 months ago, complained that Greater Manchester Police had, by moving in at the opening to arrest him, reneged on promises to allow him the chance "to open up and make his point".

Kate Bradley, of Telford, Shropshire, a former officer with the West Midlands police force, has smoked cannabis since 1991 when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. "I'm here because cannabis is the only drug that helps my pain," she said.

Mrs Bradley added that she was surprised by the police action. "I thought, I honestly thought they had just agreed to monitor the situation," she said.

Mr Davies' frustrations will not be helped if, as has been rumoured, discretionary use of cannabis is permitted by David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, in neighbouring Manchester under an extension of a Brixton pilot project in which police issue warnings, not prosecutions, to users.

Within an hour of the Dutch Experience being searched and closed, at least three protesters repaired, uninhibited, to another Stockport café, where they lit up without ceremony.

Comments