Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jan 2004
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2004 Newsquest Media Group
Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


A jailed cannabis cafe owner has gone on hunger strike in protest at
his prison diet.

Chris Baldwin, 53, a vegan, is refusing to eat the diet provided at
HMP High Down, in Sutton, Surrey, because he is not convinced that the
food is free of animal products.

He has pledged to refuse food and water until the prison proves his
meals are vegan.

The cannabis campaigner was jailed for six months on Friday after
pleading guilty to allowing people to smoke cannabis at a property on
November 27, 2002, and possessing cannabis with intent to supply on
May 20, last year.

Baldwin was arrested after police raided his notorious Dutch-style
cafe. the Quantum Leaf in Worthing.

The prisoner, who suffers from spastic paraplegia phoned his friend
and home carer Trevor Scott, of Carnegie Close, Worthing, yesterday to
say he would starve in his cell until appropriate vegan cuisine was

Mr Scott, who has looked after Baldwin for more than ten years, said
he was worried the campaigner would damage his health.

Mr Scott said: "He told me he could not eat the vegan food given and
he's refusing food and water until the prison authorities listen to
him.  I called the prison and they said inmates get what they are
given and put the phone down.  It's really unfair.  He's a fussy
eater.  A lot of people are.  Even toast with vegan spread would be
fine but he would have to know that the spread didn't have animal
produce in it - that's his prerogative as a human being."

Sarah Chalk, of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, said: "We're feeling
that he should not be in prison in the first place for a cannabis
crime.  It's appalling that he was not provided for when he arrived. 
Bearing in mind that he is a disabled man and needs more caring than a
normal prisoner, the prison should have addressed his needs straight

High Down Assistant Governor Charlotte Millar said: "A prisoner has
complained about the availability of vegan meals.  High Down currently
holds 750 prisoners of which approximately five are recorded as vegan.
 But there is a wide-ranging menu selection for prisoners which caters
for many forms of diet, including vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher
amongst others.  The meals conforming to these diet requirements are
clearly marked on the menu selection sheet provided to prisoners each

Ms Millar said new prisoners are asked about their dietary
requirements on arrival and Baldwin was offered a cold vegan meal and
fruit but refused to eat it.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin