Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jan 2004
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2004 Newsquest Media Group


Campaigners say smoking cannabis is a harmless activity which has less
of an impact on society than alcohol.

Opponents say the drug can lead to mental health problems, such as
schizophrenia, and inevitably leads the user to harder narcotics.

It is true his management of the Quantum Leaf cafe quite simply broke
the law.  The class B drug was readily available at the Worthing
store, he was caught with large amounts of cannabis and police had
gathered a wealth of evidence to prove it.

But even the trial judge said he was reluctant to jail him. Judge John
Sessions said releasing Baldwin would make a mockery of the law and so
he had no alternative.

When the Home Office reclassifies cannabis later this month, there
will be lower penalties for cannabis users and authorities expect many
more Dutch-style cafes to open as a result.

This means the courts and police will have to spend many more hours
and direct many more resources at closing them down and prosecuting
those behind them.

With prisons already overcrowded, the Government may again have to
consider if such a punishment is really helping to protect society
from what most people would now consider to be a very minor offence.
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