Pubdate: Sat, 10 Jan 2004
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2004 Newsquest Media Group
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)
Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance


A disabled pro-cannabis campaigner has been jailed for six months after
opening a Dutch-style coffee shop.

Protestors wept and shouted:"You're sending a cripple to jail" when Chris
Baldwin, 53, of Carnegie Close, Worthing, was imprisoned for his involvement
in the notorious Quantum Leaf cafe in Rowlands Road, Worthing.

Police had to clear Chichester Crown Court when some of the 30-strong group
refused to leave the public gallery.

During a series of police raids in November 2002, officers stormed the cafe,
set in a back room of a smoking accessory shop called Bongchuffa.  Officers
found and estimated UKP 2000 worth of cannabis plus more than UKP 4000 in

At yesterday's hearing, Judge John Sessions accepted Baldwin has opened the
cafe as a political statement to encourage the Government to legalise the
soon-to-be reclassified class B drug, and to provide free cannabis or people
with painful health conditions.

Peter Woodall, in mitigation, said further cannabis possession offences were
due to Baldwin suffering from spastic paraplegia since the age of seven.

The campaigner, who stood for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) in the
1997 General Election, used marijuana to alleviate his consequent leg

Former Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Superintendent, Edward Ellison,
who served in the drug squad for seven years and had met Baldwin at LCA
marches, spoke as a character witness.

However, the judge said ignoring Baldwin's two previous suspended sentences
for other drug offences would make a "mockery of the law".

He said," With considerable reluctance, I have no alternative to a custodial
sentence, which I have reduced to take into account the impending
reclassification of sentencing."

Baldwin had pleaded guilty to allowing cannabis to be used at a property,
possession with intent to supply cannabis and possession of cannabis.

Before the hearing, he said," I'd written hundreds of letters to the Home
Office, went to every pro cannabis rally, march and meeting, and lobbied
Parliament.  I felt a coffee shop was at the sharp end of the political

Mark Benson, 37, of Irene Avenue, Lancing, who worked at the Bongchuffa
shop, pleaded guilty to permitting cannabis to be used in the premises and
cultivating cannabis plants.  He was given a four month curfew order.

Winston Matthews, 47, of Court Lodge Road, Horley, was given a suspended
four month jail term after he admitted possession of cannabis with intent to
supply, supplying cannabis, possession and cultivation of cannabis.
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