Pubdate: Sat, 15 Sep 2001
Source: Reuters (Wire)
Copyright: 2001 Reuters Limited


LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Police shut down Britain's first
Dutch-style marijuana cafe on Saturday just minutes after it had
opened for the first time.

Officers closed down "The Dutch Experience" cafe in Stockport,
northern England, and arrested a 44-year-old man on suspicion of
possessing cannabis with intent to supply a controlled drug, a Greater
Manchester police spokeswoman told Reuters.

The cafe had been launched by Colin Davies, 44, a leading British
campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis who once presented Queen
Elizabeth with a bouquet of marijuana plants.

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.

"I believe the cafe was opened and then we went in and arrested him,"
the police spokeswoman said. "The premises have now been closed and
the shop is being boarded up."

Officers also arrested five other people, a British man, three Dutch
men and a Dutch woman, on suspicion of being concerned with the supply
of controlled drugs, she added.

The debate on whether cannabis should be legalised has been raging in
Britain in recent months.

Millions of Britons are thought to regularly use the illicit drug, and
a recent government survey found that almost a third of young people
had taken it in the past year.

Some senior police officers, politicians and campaign groups have said
police should be freed to concentrate on tackling the trade in harder
drugs such as crack cocaine and heroin.

London's Metropolitan police force, with government backing, announced
in June that it was launching a pilot scheme in the Lambeth area
whereby offenders caught with the drug would be given no more than a
verbal warning.

In July, Home Secretary (interior minister) David Blunkett signalled
that the government would at least consider the arguments for changing
the law, calling for "adult, intelligent debate" specifically on cannabis.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake