Pubdate: Fri, 29 Aug 2003
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2003 Newsquest Media Group
Author: Huw Borland
Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance
Cannabis Cafes:


An MP has joined in the row surrounding alleged cannabis cafes, saying
police operations to shut them down will cost more than UKP 100,000.
Officers have so far closed two of the three cafes in Worthing where it is
alleged the drug has been sold and consumed.

Tactics have included stationing officers in Brougham Road and Victoria Road
to search anyone leaving or entering the cafes.

Now Tim Loughton, Tory MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, said the
"unofficial" price of this police pressure, which has continued for the past
month, may exceed UKP 100,000.

He disclosed the figure in a letter to a pro-cannabis campaigner who had
suggested police were wasting resources on the crackdown. Mr Loughton said
it was "purely an unofficial ballpark estimate" and added: "The cheek of
these cannabis campaigners is amazing. Whatever you think about the
legalisation of cannabis, as it stands, it is against the law. "What they
are saying is it should not be policed in the this way but that's entirely a
matter of opinion depending on your views of legalisation. "While it is
illegal it should be policed in the same way as burglary or any other

Chief Inspector Russ Whitfield said it was difficult to estimate how much
money was being spent on the crackdown and police had not released any
figures. He said: "It's different with a murder inquiry, you can ask for
exactly how many hours have been worked on it, but the cafes get normal
patrols driving past. It's part of normal policing, although we are putting
in extra resources."

Mr Whitfield said there was a remaining cafe in Victoria Road and efforts to
close it would continue.

Owners of Buddy's, the alleged cannabis cafe in Brougham Road, had decided
to shut following what they called a "police siege" of the site. But
Legalise Cannabis Alliance Press officer Don Barnard has continually
questioned whether the costly police tactics in Worthing were warranted. In
an email to Mr Loughton, he wrote: "I'm confused by your ideology that
possession of cannabis is the same as theft, assault or whatever is against
the law in this country and must be treated equally.

"No one would disagree that crimes of robbery, murders, rapes and assaults
should be punished. These types of crimes infringe on people's human rights,
harm the individual, their families and society in general. As such,
punishment in these cases can be justified.

"How can you compare the above crimes with cannabis possession. Where is the
harm to others?

"How does smoking a joint or growing a few plants impact on society as a
whole? No one has their privacy or quality of life infringed. There is no
victim." Several people have been charged with drug offences in relation to
a former cafe called Bongchuffa in Rowlands Road, Worthing, and are due to
appear in court later this year.
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