Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jun 2003
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2003 Newsquest Media Group
Author: Huw Borland


A political leader joined traders and customers to mark the first 
anniversary of an alleged cannabis cafe in Worthing.

Michael Russell, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Gosport Borough 
Council, praised staff at Buddy's, in Brougham Road, and criticised 
political figures in the town for not coming to the party and open day.

He said: "If you look at what is going on today, it is fairly clear there 
are going to be cannabis cafes nationwide.

"I just want to make sure that when coffee shops open in Gosport we have 
the information and knowledge and are able to provide cannabis users with 
the appropriate safeguards for themselves and for residents." Almost every 
civic dignitary in Worthing, including MPs and councillors, was sent an 
invitation on Monday to yesterday's celebrations but none turned up. Coun 
Russell, who describes himself as an occasional consumer of cannabis in the 
form of hash cakes and biscuits, said: "I think this is a missed opportunity.

"If you are a local politician representing local people, surely the onus 
is on you to find out what is happening in the community." Sheila Player 
the leader of Lib Dem-controlled Worthing Borough Council, said: "I was 
invited but my diary was already full."

A 1,000-signature petition from customers supporting the cafes was on show, 
as well as a 100-name petition by nearby residents and shop owners. Shirley 
Knapton of the next-door cafe Ali's Pantry, said: "When I first came here 
this place looked like a hovel but they have really cleaned it up. "They 
have changed it for the good and they have helped here. They are good 
people. The people who would shut them down have never met them." A number 
of people have been charged with drug offences in relation to the Worthing