Pubdate: Wed, 14 May 2003
Source: Manchester Evening News (UK)
Copyright: 2003 Manchester Evening News
Author: Robert Bottomley


JAILED cannabis campaigner Colin Davies will remain behind bars after a 
judge ruled a prison governor was right not to release him for smoking the 

The judge said that while Davies may have a defence for using cannabis 
under criminal law, he has no defence under prison rules.

Davies, who opened the country's first cannabis coffee shop in Stockport, 
was due to be freed last month under the early release scheme.

But he was kept in jail after testing positive for cannabis.

On Monday, a judge at the appeal hearing in HMP Sudbury, Derbyshire, ruled 
that to release Davies would open the floodgates for other prisoners to 
claim a defence for using drugs.


Davies' legal team are now preparing to take his case to a judicial review 
in a bid to overturn the ruling.

Euro MP Chris Davies has also written to Home Office minister Hilary Benn 
attacking the decision.

Davies was sentenced to three years last October for supplying cannabis, 
but was due to be released in early April under a tag scheme.

He is now expected to be released under licence in July after his serving 
several months in jail on remand was taken into consideration.

If he is found to have smoked cannabis again before his release, he will 
have an extra 10 days added to his sentence.


Davies was found not guilty of drug offences by two juries at separate 
Crown Court trials in 1998 and 1999 after he argued he needs cannabis to 
alleviate pain from a severe back injury.

His solicitor, Chris Hinett, of Henry and Co, said: "Colin has been found 
guilty of using cannabis under prison law and we are now going to lodge an 
application for a judicial review.

"The judge dismissed the defence of duress - the defence Colin has 
previously used when he was acquitted in the past - that he had no option 
but to use cannabis for medical reasons.

"The judge said that would be fine in the criminal courts, but not under 
prison law.

"The judge said that the implications for the prison service, if he 
accepted Colin's defence, would be immense as every prisoner caught using 
cannabis would claim a medical defence.

"Colin is very upset by the decision, he feels that the system is getting 
its own back on him for the way he has behaved in the past."
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