The upcoming of the first coffeeshop in the UK: The Dutch Experience in Stockport.
I met Colin Davies in March, 2001, because of our mutual interest in the medical aspects of cannabis. Colin was told to contact me to see if I could help in what he does in the UK, supplying sick and disabled people with cannabis, no matter what it takes.
I liked Colin right away, he is the most likeable person I hade ever met in our culture, and he was determined to fulfill his mission: To supply his co-patients in need for cannabis with the desired herbal medicine.
Colin asked me if I could help in doing so, by joining him in a medical marihuana outlet in the UK, combined with a cannabis education project.
I promised to help him, it enede us both up in a lot of trouble, and even worse for Colin, he is still in prison, after being convicted to 3 years in prison.
The following compilation of press articles, pictures and some of my messages and comments is meant to show you how it eveolved in the first place.
It also clearly shows the inconsistency of Politicians, Magistrates, Judges, Police Officers and the media in the UK, as well as the confusion caused by Class C or not Class C.
Colin, your mission and vision are alive, as you can see, once you’re free…
Smooth sailing for first UK cannabis coffeeshop
The 'Dutch Experience' set to open September 15 in Stockport
from CC Online
by Pete Brady
Buy the book at GaGaTrading.Biz
The Queen and Prince Charles should have their invitations by now. The interior of the building leased by UK pot activist Colin Davies has been refurbished with a fresh coat of paint and authentic decorations from coffee shops owned by Dutch cannalegend Nol Van Schaik. Volunteers are weighing and packaging sticky green medicine- Jack Herer, BioHaze, Shalom, Skunk #1- in secret locations. The world's media, following the lead of Cannabis Culture magazine which was the first to report on the Davies-Van Schaik endeavor, are salivating at the prospect of covering the opening of the first public European marijuana shop outside Holland.
In Stockport, England near Manchester, Davies is working around the clock with Van Schaik's long-time business partner Marcel Dekker, who has managed coffee shops for a decade. Davies, a medical marijuana user and grower who made headlines by giving marijuana to members of England's royal family, appreciates Dekker's expert advice. Davies is calling his new shop "The Dutch Experience," and Dekker is helping him make it authentic.
Davies' project has been a litmus test for those who claim to be marijuana activists in the UK. Many so-called activists who privately said they would give their lives for marijuana are now afraid to help Davies, fearing that the police will arrest them at the coffee shop's opening press conference on Friday, September 14th.
"We've found out who has courage," Davies quips. "Some of them are calling up asking if I'm crazy or want to get arrested. They hear some rumor about what the police might have said, then they scurry around acting worried on my behalf. What everyone should be focusing on are the patients- the people in wheelchairs and such- who are coming to this opening and who expect their medicine to be easily available in England from now on. I've been in contact with the police. They are very reasonable people. They're not like the police in America. They don't enjoy harming harmless people. They don't shoot people. They know that what we're doing is a service to the community. I'm not a betting man, but right now, I'd wager that The Dutch Experience is going to be a success."
Across the channel in Haarlem, Holland, Nol Van Schaik is busy running his three coffee shops and Global Hemp Museum. Van Schaik intends to travel to England for the grand opening- a risky proposition since the French government still wants to extradite him on a hash smuggling charge that he literally ran away from ten years ago.
"Some Dutch government officials called to set an appointment because they like to bring dignitaries from other countries to my shops so they can see that the Dutch model of marijuana tolerance works better than the American prohibition regime," he said. "I told them that I'd appreciate it if they'd keep the French from messing with me, because I am exporting Holland's successful policy to other countries. The official responded that the Dutch government is proud of its policy, and they are glad that the rest of Europe is finally admitting that our way works best. We're going to have an international gathering of marijuana activists at this event, including Wernard Bruining, the guy who created the first Netherlands potshop."
Cannabis Culture will be an integral part of the historic opening of The Dutch Experience. By Saturday, the world will know whether the United Kingdom has officially joined Holland as a country with progressive, intelligent marijuana policies.
"We're all very excited to see this finally ready to happen," said a tired Davies by phone from Northern England. "Our British ancestors grew and used marijuana in England and elsewhere for centuries. You only have to look at the number of our towns called 'Hempstead' or something similar. It's part of our culture. We're proud to be bringing this miracle plant back out into the light of day in the UK where it belongs."
Information: The UK Medicinal Cannabis Buyers' Club www.mmco.org.uk and www.wwwshop.nl
First UK marijuana coffeeshop to open
Activists Davies and Van Schaik bring pot to Stockport
from CC Online
by Pete Brady
Cannabis Culture is proud to be the first news organization to report that United Kingdom marijuana activist Colin Davies and Dutch coffee shop guru Nol Van Schaik will be opening the first marijuana coffee shop in England in September.
Davies and Van Schaik were already allies in the European medical marijuana movement. When major British politicians and officials began openly calling for cannabis decriminalization earlier this year, the pair decided that the UK was ready for a cannabis retail system modeled on the Dutch approach to cannabis sales.
Davies is already famous for giving marijuana to the Queen Mother and Prince Charles, and for twice being acquitted of marijuana cultivation charges. He founded and manages the British Medical Marijuana Cooperative, which provides medpot to a growing number of patients.
Now, Davies is poised to make history.
"Nol and I feel that the time is right to be open and honest about the need for cannabis in England," the soft-spoken Davies said. "We'll be opening the country's first public marijuana shop in mid-September, near Manchester. We're calling it 'The Dutch Experience.' We're going to provide low-cost marijuana to medical users, subsidized by sales to recreational users."
Van Schaik owns and manages three renowned coffee shops in Haarlem, Holland, 20 minutes from Amsterdam.
"I'm helping Colin make this an authentic Dutch experience," Van Schaik explained. "He's got so much heart, and so much good sense, and we're setting up his shop so customers can enjoy the place and get the best marijuana possible for the best prices."
Local authorities where Davies intends to open his shop have given mixed signals concerning cannabis cultivation and sales, but Davies says he isn't worried about government interference.
"We're going to have a grand opening ceremony attended by Wernard Bruining, who created the first Dutch coffee shop, Mellow Yellow. We'll have cannabis activists and patients from across Europe. The police know that juries don't want to find me guilty for cannabis offenses, and that public opinion is solidly against the war on marijuana. Europe is fast moving toward a rational marijuana policy. I'm grateful for Nol's help in bringing the Dutch experience here to England. We're going to have a great time helping a lot of people get the healing herb," he said.
Police vow to close Amsterdam soft drug cafe
Stockport Express, Thursday 06 Sep 2001
POLICE in Stockport have vowed to shut down an Amsterdam-style cannabis cafe set to open in a secret location thought to be near the town centre.
Colin Davies, the Stockport man infamous for presenting the Queen with a bouquet of marijuana plants, says he will open the controversial cafe in Stockport on September 15.
The Brinnington man, who has campaigned for the legalisation of cannabis to help people with illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, claims he is opening the Dutch Experience cafe for patients who find the illegal drug eases their symptoms.
In Amsterdam people can walk into this type of cafe and buy and smoke cannabis on the premises.
But he says supplies for medical users will be subsidised with revenue from people visiting the cafe for "social" use.
He presented the Queen with a bunch of marijuana plants as she toured the new Lowry Centre in Salford Quays.
Mr Davies said the reason he wanted to open the cafe was the amount of letters he was inundated with from sufferers.
He said: "The proof is in the patients, and the good that is being done for them. It is the patients who come first.
"Imagine if you are in a wheelchair, how do you get hold of some good quality medicine?
"The plan is to bring a lot of patients together to meet and discuss their personal problems with each other, and support each other."
Mr Davies now says he has supporters coming to the opening of the Dutch Experience from as far away as America and Holland.
And he wants patients to come together to cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the cafe.
But this week Superintendent Ian McLoughlin, from Stockport Police, said:
"The law in respect of a Class C drug is very clear. If this happens in Stockport we will monitor the situation but it is the law of the land and we will uphold this."
Pair say Stockport cannabis cafe plans won't go up in smoke
Ananova, Friday 07 Sep 2001
Britain's first cannabis cafe looks set to open in Greater Manchester this month despite police warnings that it will be shut down.
The Dutch Experience is a joint venture between two men from Holland and Britain.
The cafe is due to open in a secret location in Stockport next weekend.
Normal customers will pay extra to subsidise reductions for people wanting cannabis for medical use.
Dutch Experience owners Colin Davies and Nol van Shaik say they are confident the Amsterdam-style cafe will be a success.
Greater Manchester Police says the law on supply of drugs is clear and its policy is to enforce the law.
A spokeswoman told Ananova: "The law on the supply of controlled drugs is quite clear and the policy of Greater Manchester Police is to enforce the law.
"We will monitor any developments in this area."
Mr Van Schaik said: "If I knew for sure that I would end up in prison I certainly wouldn't be starting a business in England."
Mr Davies, who once offered the Queen a bunch of marijuana plants during a public visit, is also enthusiastic about the project.
He said: "When I went to the police to propose the project they warned me it was illegal. But I'm pretty sure they won't do anything when hundreds of wheelchair patients are waiting at my doorstep."
UK: 'Cannabis cafe' to open
The BBC, Friday 14 Sep 2001
A drugs campaigner who once presented the Queen with a bouquet of marijuana plants says he is preparing to open a cannabis cafe in the north-west of England.
Colin Davies has called for the legalisation of the drug for medicinal purposes.
He told BBC News Online he expected a number of people who use cannabis to relieve pain and other symptoms to visit the cafe when it opens on Saturday in Stockport.
Police in Greater Manchester have vowed to keep a close eye on the premises, called the Dutch Experience.
The 44-year-old claims he presented the Queen with a bouquet containing cannabis plants outside the Lowry Arts Centre in Trafford, when she performed the official opening last October.
Mr Davies started taking cannabis in 1996 after suffering from the side effects of conventional drugs which he took to relieve the pain caused by serious spinal injuries.
Mr Davies who lives in Stockport, founded the Medical Marijuana Co-operative to help fellow pain sufferers by providing them with cannabis. In 1999 he was aquitted after a three-day trial of cultivating and possessing the drug with intent to supply.
He said he was forced to use the drug out of medical necessity and supplied it to two sufferers of multiple sclerosis for the same reason.
Mr Davies is flagging up the cafe which he says will serve cannabis as "the UK's first Medipot Coffee Shop".
He said: "We are making arrangments for disabled facilities for patients who are coming to the opening of the cafe."
Assistant chief constable Vincent Sweeney said: "The law on the supply of controlled drugs is quite clear and the place of Greater Manchester Police is to enforce the law.
"We will monitor any developments in this area.
The report on the opening of the first ever cannabisshop in the UK: The Dutch Experience.
15 September 2001.
We, Maruska and me, arrived in Stockport on thursday, around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, Colin picked us up in the ambulance, as usual, he was happy as a pig in shit!!
He told me the place looked good, his brother Mark really helped out by doing most of the painting, Baron and Andrea helped out with cleaning a lot. Our boys, Ton and Marcel had brought in the major part of the interior the day before, and Marcel, WWW's manager, did what he was supposed to, help Colin with dressing the place with fourniture and decoration.
It looked good indeed, it looked new, but smelled and felt like the old days in Willie Wortel, most of the decoration came from there.
We joined in with the last things after a cup 'o tea, and taking some pictures...
so good, everybody was enthusiastic about the whole thing, especially since Colin had an announced visit from the police, in his flat.
The two policemen were the same couple that busted down Colin’s door, on his last arrest for growing marihuana for himself and other patients, so he knew who he was dealing with.
Colin knows the details of this conversation, so I'll ask him to write more about it.
Colin said that the officers asked him if he was going on with the planned opening of the Dutch experience, Colin said he would.
The officers told him that they would not make arrests on the opening day, but they would send someone to have a look.
This was the main thing, so Colin thought we were going to be left alone, and that the ceremony could go ahead as planned.
We were all delighted about the news, who could have thought the police can be reasonable about cannabis, but we believed it.
happily working off the last bits.
The last decoration and the satellite computer were brought in on Friday by Ton and Maarten, who were going to take care of the live transmission on Internet.
Colin, Maruska, Baron, Andrea and me were filling in the last empty spots in the place, it started to come alive...
We were all looking forward to a grand opening, with a lot of patients and other visitors, and the press, of course.
It was hard to get everything done, we were constantly called by the press, from the UK and from Holland.
We worked until 10 that day, and all went to our respective homes and hotels to have nice dreams.... tomorrow we would be having a great day!!
The next day.
Maruska and me stayed at the Old Rectory hotel, just a 5 minute walk away from the Dutch Experience, up and down some hills, Stockport is beautiful, but a hard city for wheelchair bound people.
We woke up at 7, so we were off to the Dutch Experience early, but we were to early, the gates were still closed, as we saw walking up there, so we walked in the city to have a cup of coffee. We noticed a car driving up to the parking lot near the DE, we also noticed that he was observing us with great interest.
We walked around on the old Victorian market hall, to buy the last things for the opening, like fruit and candy.
We were just having a cup of coco in Hazels, when Colin called in, he had arrived at the premises. We went over there straight away, we had to clean up and put all the drinks in the bar, the fridges were only put in the night before.
As soon as we were there were patients coming in, some in wheelchairs, some on crutches.
Colin was jumping around excited, the rest of the volunteers were cleaning up the last raffles and sawdust.
We were all working hard to be able to welcome the rest of the patients and the press in..... The patients on the picture were already in by that time.
Opening day, ten o'clock in the morning.
It might have been a few minutes after 10 when Colin opened the door to let in more of the patients first, they were waiting to be let in on the doorstep.
I was still in the sitting area, talking to the patients and taking pictures, when I heard Colin shout: "Get out, you are not invited, get out, you can't come in without a search warrant!!"
It turned out that some undercover police-people had mingled in between the patients coming through the door, they told Maruska they were invited, Maruska asked who they were. They told Maruska they were police officers. Maruska was surprised " Police, really?” and asked them if they had a search warrant, they replied that they were invited again. " Really??" said Maruska again, while turning and stepping back to ask Colin, who started his shouting as soon as he spotted them from the bar.
At that moment the door was pushed open and more police officers came in telling us all to stay where we were, while Colin tried to push them out again.
The 'invited' police-officer stayed where he was, while Colin rushed out, grabbing the handles of a wheelchair with one of his patients, trying to get her in, while shouting: " This is a patient in need of her medicine, let us in, we have the right to go in!"
I rushed to the door opening of the hall from the back of the sitting area, to lend Colin a helping hand to get the lady in the wheelchair in, who was being stopped by a female police officer from entering the sitting area, to join with the other patients.
The lady in the wheelchair was moved left to right in the door opening, Colin pushing her in, the female cop trying to push her back, shaking the 'object' in the middle.
Colin shouted she had no respect for ill people, as I grabbed a hold of the wheelchair, to try and pull it in. Colin’s arm ended up between the post and the door, which made him scream: " Aow, my arm you're hurting my arm", making the police quit to try and close the door, the fem-cop and her colleagues pulled Colin in the sitting area, with the lady in the wheelchair. The officers handled Colin roughly, which made him state:" I am a patient, you're hurting me, my back hurts!”
Two officers pushed Colin to the floor; I was pushed and ordered away by another. They initially wanted to twist Colin’s arms on his back, Colin asked to please not do that, I told them Colin is in pain because of a spinal injury, probably they realized what they were doing, they sat Colin down on a chair, I was ordered away again. Colin had one hand free, and started pointing at a joint, in an ashtray on the table close to him. " I need my medicine, shouted Colin, trying to reach an unlit rolled cigarette on the table, he could not reach it, so I picked it up and handed it to him, with a lighter, so he put the cigarette between his lips and lit it, inhaling the smoke while the fem-cop was pulling his occupied arm, trying to take the joint from Colin. Colin passed the cigarette to me, I put it back on the ashtray, to get it out of the way of the police-officers chasing it.
The fem-cop pointed to me and told one of her colleagues that I had the cigarette. I pointed at the ashtray, where it still was, to show the objects whereabouts, one of the male officers picked it up, gave it a ride under his nose and put it out, it appeared to be smelling like cannabis, said the officers involved in this major bust.
Maruska yelled that somebody should open the blinds, the press was kept out of sight. I was already on my way, and opened the blinds of both two big windows in the sitting area, and waved the press over to the opening, making about twenty cameras and their holders to rush to the occasion.
In the meantime the police forced Marcel to hand them the tape from the VCR he was using to save the moment for history.
We asked for a receipt, the confiscating cop said he would give us one, but never did. It was noted in the police reports later, as evidence, ridiculous and sad, cops in despair, like if they are not proud to show the public how they act behind closed doors.
I have no pictures of the event too, my camera was behind the coffeebar, I was not allowed in there anymore.
Colin was the first one to be arrested, despite of what the police officers told him, one of the officers that visited Colin turned out to be the 'invited' lawman.
I consider lying to people in a situation like this very unfair, and thus un-British, making Colin outrageous, shouting and yelling as he was led of the premises, by two fem-cops, under a loud applause and cheers from the people who where waiting to get in.
After Colin was led off, the two fem-cops came back in, and started to physically search everybody in the place, patients included.
There were some baggies of weed on a table, the first direct evidence that they were right in their suspicion of 'crime' going on in the building.
After we were all searched, the police started to let the patients out, they were not searched severely anyway, maybe even the officers contain blood....
After the patients they let out everybody out, all Britain subjects, the only people left in the building was Kevin, who was arrested on possession A joint in the coffeebar, and us, the Dutch.
The cruel fem-cop told us we were under arrest on suspicion of the supply of an illegal substance, which made us all frown in wonder. We were all searched and we all had nothing on us, so how could we supply the illegal substance we referred too, cannabis?
I told the officers present it was strange being under arrest with nothing illegal in possession, for suspicion of supplying whatever substance they were referring to.
I also ventilated I thought it was peculiar that all the non-possessing Britons were all let out, and that only the Dutch non-possessors were arrested for no reason.
They could not care less, Maruska soon followed Colin to the police station around the corner, short ride, after receiving her cheers from the growing crowd in front of the place.
Marcel followed soon, all being led away by the same two fem-cops, who tried their utmost to appear intimidating, acting as bullies with a toothache.
I was next in line, had my cheers and a lot of pictures shot, and was put in the back of a police car, the reporter from our local newspaper, Coen Springelkamp, asked what I was being arrested for, I could only reply I did not know, before the driver of the police van shut the door in our faces.
My first bust for cannabis....
I have never been arrested for trading in cannabis in Holland in my 11 year career as a coffeeshopkeeper, but now I was in the back of a police car, on my way to the Stockport police station, we sure beat the record of the renown " 90 minutes coffeeshop", that once was in the UK in 1993. Details on: www.ccnews.org.uk
We were not even open for 90 seconds, in fact we were not open, until the next morning, Colin recovered his keys and opened up, no smoking inside, because of a slick trick of the Man-police, they pushed the landlord in to breaking our lease and to have us removed, for allowing people to use cannabis on the premises.
This law is the cause of a lot of smoking in front of pubs, after having rolled the smoke inside the place, sneakily.
The owner of the establishment will be held responsible for this strange law, forcing people to smoke on the street.
The Man-police will hold the landlord responsible, if he does not kick us out, Colin got notice of that on the night before the opening.
Very odd, the police are trying to shift their responsibilities to a private person, maybe it was to try and prevent to be confronted with the arrest of sick people in wheelchairs, who knows?
Anyway, I was booked, as a suspect for supplying an illegal substance, discharged of my belongings and papers, the officers were relaxed and polite, especially compared to most of the officers involved in the raid.
I got a nice room without view, did not even look as bad as I thought, and a paper telling me my rights when in jail, very interesting read...
Colin and Maruska shouted to me from their rooms, Marcel was not in, he left before me, but arrived 15 minutes later, and was put in with me, no more empty cells...
How easy to break the law in a city with only a few cells, more about that later.....
We shouted to each other, Marcel representing me, I am getting deaf, I think, the echo made it more difficult.
The cell across from us was filled by Kevin, the guy with A joint, he was out on bail around 4, I think.
We spent 14 hours in there, boring and only interrupted with the interview by the fem-cops, with Mr. Hinnett, Colin’s solicitor, and now ours as well.
The food was hot, and stayed unused, Marcel stank up our shared room by opening the microwave meal. I did not even open mine. Marcel got offered some chicken, by the female warden, but he refused it as polite as she offered it.
The interview was taped, we were cheek brushed for our DNA, our picture and fingerprints were taken, while the bust bobbies and the fem-cops were searching Colin’s place, our hotel room and the Dutch Experience.
It turned out they found 'ounces' of cannabis in the Dutch Experience, and a car with a 'large amount of cannabis' as we were told before the interview.
I answered their questions and explained my motivations in the interview, I was under suspicion of 'possessing and supplying an illegal substance', based on the fact that I handed a hand-rolled cigarette to Colin from an ashtray, with a lighter. I possessed the illegal substance, for a second, and handed it to a Colin, in need of a smoke. The dark-haired fem-cop said the cigarette contained cannabis.
I told her I did not know that, because the apparent joint had not been lit. She replied it reeked strongly after cannabis.
My defense was that I could not have known that, before setting it on fire, but that I did hand Colin the now-called joint and a lighter, and placed it back in the ashtray. That was my crime of that day, something I do on a daily bases, handing people cigarettes and joints, and a lighter…
We were all released on bail, after having been detained from 11.20 hrs until 03.00 hrs, the next night, finding the DE closed, so we all decided to go home, or hotellish, we were all bushed...
We were all expected to appear for Justice on November 20, I don't know in wich form, but we'll find out there and then.
We all thanked Mr. Hinnet, the solicitor, for his legal advice and council, he seems to know what he is doing.
We had to wake the night watch to get our key, he was sleeping in a corner of the lobby, he woke up on Maruska's knocking.
We had a shower and a few hours of sleep, we were called awake by my phone ringing, it was Maruska's mother relieved to hear we were in bed, 8 o'clock in the morning.
We had breakfast first and went looking for Wernard, when Coen, the Haarlems Dagblad reporter, called me, about his English Experience.
He and Olaf Joolen, reporters for the Algemeen Dagblad, had their room in the hotel searched, and were suspect of being concerned in the cannabis related Nol van Schaik!?
On their question why they were searched, interviewed and treated like criminals, they heard it was because they were Dutch so they were involved in what was going on in Stockport, as the dark-haired fem-cop explained. Besides that she exclaimed some unwanted remarks on Coen's sexlife, so the two reporters filed a complaint against them, for rudeness, and such.
An inspector apologized, so they won't press charges, I hope they will change their minds!
We found Wernard too, because we thought he was in room 26, next to us, we only saw him briefly, he was still outside during the raid, so he was not arrested.
Apparently they wanted to arrest him, he swapped rooms with Vincent, an MS patient, who wanted a smokers room, so Wernard gave him his.
Vincent was arrested instead of Wernard, because of the switch apparently, he was in possession of A joint.
Wernard smiled about the story, after I told him Vincent was let off after an hour, for possession.
We were weedless and detained for 14 hours, discrimination?
I think so, and this will lead to some, I think that too.
ATTENTION!! Six more people were arrested there...
Not just for the records, but to make people understand that Colin and me were not the only two persons arrested during or after the raid on the Dutch Experience.
Four more people were arrested on the premises, I’ll explain how and why.
Marcel, the 11 yearlong manager of Willie Wortel Workshop, who went to Stockport to help Colin with the interior and decoration, was also arrested, as a suspect of being concerned with the supply of an illegal substance. Marcel was taping the event with our video, from the inside, he also taped the struggle in the hall when the first action started, and the cops confiscated the tape. He was not in possession of an illegal substance, yet he spent 14 ours in a cell, just because he works for me, he was there to help Colin and me.
Maruska, my partner in time, and the curator of the Global Hempmuseum, came with me to help install everything behind and in the bar, as she did for Willie Wortel and Frans Hals, before she started running the museum. She was behind the bar, putting the last things in their respective places, when the police forced in. She is a suspect of being concerned in supplying an illegal substance. She was not in possession of an illegal substance, yet she spent 14 hours in a cell, just because she is with me.
Maarten, our Webmaster, who was there to set up a satellite connection, because we were supposed to transmit the ‘party’ live in the Internet, was just back in the shop to get the computer for the satellite. Maarten is no suspect at all…nothing he was told of? He was not in the possession of an illegal substance, yet, also he spent 14 hours in a cell, just because he was there.
Ton, who was assisting Maarten in setting up the satellite station, was not even present during the bust, but out to buy an extension cord in Stockport city. He was arrested the next day, when he went to the police station, to get his passport back, that was taken during the bust in Colin’s flat, where he stayed the night before. He is now also a suspect of being concerned in the supply of an illegal substance. Ton was not in possession of an illegal substance, yet he spent two hours on the police station, just for being not there….
I just wanted you all to know.
Then, Kevin, one of Colin’s patients, was also arrested, in the other room, for possession of A joint, he spent about 6 hours in the cell.
The last arrest is the most peculiar one…
The police searched our room in the Old Rectory, found nothing, but also searched the rooms of all other Dutch people, including Wernard’s room.
Wernard was originally in room 26, next to Maruska and me, but, when it turned out that Vincent, a patient of Colin’s (MS) had to stay on a non-smoking room, Wernard offered him his room, so Vincent could smoke his medicine. Wernard moved down to room 6. When the police came, they probably asked for the rooms of all Dutch people, and started searching those rooms….
When they entered room 26, where they expected Wernard to be, they found Vincent under the shower, he was in possession of A joint too, so he was booked and spent an hour at the police station.
Besides these arrests, two Dutch journalists, Coen Springelkamp and Olaf van Joolen, were also put under suspicion of the possession of an illegal substance, so they were searched, as well as their rooms!! When they asked why this all was they were replied: “ Because you are Dutch.”
All other people present inside the Dutch experience, all of them Britons, were not being hassled. Nobody smoking, sick or healthy, was arrested in front of the Dutch Experience, under surveillance of the cops. None of the British people who stayed in the Old Rectory for this event, mostly patients, were bothered.
Now, what doe this smell like? Not like equal rights…
By: Sinsemilla Guerrilla
UK cannabis cafe manager is arrested
Ananova, Saturday 15 Sep 2001
The manager of Britain's first Amsterdam-style cafe which aims to sell cannabis has reportedly been arrested shortly after the business opened.
A scuffle broke out at the entrance of the cafe when a plain clothed detective revealed to cafe owner Colin Davies that he was inside.
Police had warned Mr Davies that The Dutch Experience, based in the centre of Stockport, Greater Manchester, would be shut down if it was found to be breaking the law.
Mr Davies came out of his business just after opening demanding that the police officer showed him a warrant. A uniformed officer outside the shop was involved in an altercation with Mr Davies, who was trapped in the door.
Mr Davies came out to greet a woman in a wheelchair and pushed her back into the shop saying: "She is a sick woman and needs cannabis to relieve her pain."
The scuffle continued and Mr Davies was seen inside the cafe slumped on the floor. At 10.15am he was led away by two female plain clothed detectives amid shouts from his supporters.
As Mr Davies was put into the back of a police van, one of his supporters shouted: "He's a healer not a dealer."
A Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said: "A man has been arrested for the possession of cannabis with intent to supply. A search of the premises will now be conducted."
Police officers arrived in greater numbers at about 10.30am and entered the cafe where they carried out a search of every person there. Several people were arrested on suspicion of
possession of cannabis and as they were led away a crowd of supporters outside cheered.
Supporters of Mr Davies began smoking cannabis outside the cafe as the police watched. The wheelchair users lit pipes filled with the drug as police officers stood just two yards away.
Police shut down Britain's first cannabis cafe
Reuters, Saturday 15 Sep 2001
LONDON (Reuters) - Police have shut down Britain's first Dutch-style marijuana cafe just minutes after it opened for the first time.
Officers closed down "The Dutch Experience" cafe in Stockport, and arrested a 44-year-old man on suspicion of possessing cannabis with intent to supply a controlled drug, a Greater Manchester police spokeswoman told Reuters.
The cafe had been launched by Colin Davies, 44, a leading British campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis who once presented Queen Elizabeth with a bouquet of marijuana plants.
Davies, a founder of the Medical Marijuana Co-operative, a non-profit organisation that provides cannabis to people who suffer from multiple sclerosis and arthritis, said he had wanted to give sufferers of debilitating diseases a safe place to buy the drug.
"I believe the cafe was opened and then we went in and arrested him," the police spokeswoman said. "The premises have now been closed and the shop is being boarded up."
Officers also arrested five other people, a British man, three Dutch men and a Dutch woman, on suspicion of being concerned with the supply of controlled drugs, she added.
The debate on whether cannabis should be legalised has been raging in recent months.
Millions of Britons are thought to regularly use the illicit drug, and a recent government survey found that almost a third of young people had taken it in the past year.
Some senior police officers, politicians and campaign groups have said police should be freed to concentrate on tackling the trade in harder drugs such as crack cocaine and heroin.
London's Metropolitan police force, with government backing, announced in June that it was launching a pilot scheme in the Lambeth area whereby offenders caught with the drug would be given no more than a verbal warning.
In July, Home Secretary David Blunkett signalled that the government would at least consider the arguments for changing the law, calling for "adult, intelligent debate" specifically on cannabis.
Cannabis cafe owner released
BBC Online, Sunday 16 Sep 2001
A campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis who was arrested after attempting to open the UK's first Amsterdam-style marijuana cafe has been released without charge.
Colin Davies, 44, was questioned by detectives on suspicion of possessing cannabis with intent to supply.
He was arrested on Saturday morning just minutes after opening the doors of "The Dutch Experience" cafe, in Stockport, Greater Manchester.
Mr Davies was involved in scuffles with uniformed officers before being led away by undercover detectives.
He was questioned at Stockport police station until 0330 on Sunday when he was released on police bail without charge.
Another man and four Dutch people, three men and a woman, were also arrested on suspicion of being concerned with the supply of a Class B drug.
They have all been released on police bail.
A Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said: "All six people arrested have been released on bail pending further inquiries.
"Some substances have been seized and will undergo forensic examination."
Mr Davies said after his release he was "disgusted" with the police's handling of the situation.
He said the cafe was open again, but would not be selling cannabis or allowing the drug to be smoked on its premises. Dozens of people from across the country turned up
for the opening of the cafe.
Its aim was to sell cannabis at a cheaper rate to ill people who say it helps relieve symptoms.
At least 10 people in wheelchairs, some of them with multiple sclerosis including a former police officer, were at the shop to support Mr Davies.
"Our aim was to provide ill people with this medicine," said Mr Davies.
"Have the police nothing better to do than disrupt ill people's lives?
"We are now looking at alternative ways of running the business, which is almost a reverse of our aim. It puts the selling of cannabis back on to the
'Doing their jobs'
Mr Davies continued his call for the government to change the law and legalise cannabis.
He said: "I do not blame the police officers who were there yesterday. They were doing their jobs. It is at government level where something needs to be done."
Mr Davies founded the Medical Marijuana Co-operative to help fellow pain sufferers by providing them with cannabis.
He said he was forced to use the drug out of medical necessity and supplied it to two sufferers of multiple sclerosis for the same reason.
Mr Davies, who lives in Stockport, had flagged up the cafe as "the UK's first Medipot Coffee Shop". He said the cafe had facilities to accommodate disabled visitors who used the drug for pain relief.
Mr Davies' father, 71-year-old Colin Davies, said his son smoked the drug to relieve his pain since he broke his spine in a 70-feet fall down a riverbank four years ago.
Cannabis smokers protest after arrest of cafe owner
Ian Herbert, The Independent, Monday 17 Sep 2001
The reefers were being passed around again outside Britain's first cannabis cafe yesterday, 24 hours after its proprietor was arrested and marched away by police.
A handful of people smoked joints outside the "Dutch Experience" in Stockport, Greater Manchester, and at least 15 gathered inside again with 44-year-old Colin Davies, who criticised police officers for moving in on Saturday to arrest him before the ribbon across the cafe's threshold had even been cut.
"It's a disgrace, treating ill people like this and forcing them out," said Mr Davies, who has smoked cannabis to relieve pain since he broke his spine four years ago and insists his aim is to make medicinal cannabis available to all those who need it.
The immaculate lay-out of the premises includes furniture shipped in from Amsterdam's own founding cannabis cafe.
Mr Davies was released on bail by Greater Manchester Police in the early hours of yesterday, pending the scientific examination of several ounces of cannabis found in the cafe, his flat and a Dutch-registered car. He has already admitted the plant was in his possession.
Five other people, including four Dutch nationals, were questioned on suspicion of being concerned with the supply of a Class B drug and bailed.
Lawyers and friends of Mr Davies, who handed the Queen a cannabis bouquet 12 months ago, complained that Greater Manchester Police had, by moving in at the opening to arrest him, reneged on promises to allow him the chance "to open up and make his point".
Kate Bradley, of Telford, Shropshire, a former officer with the West Midlands police force, has smoked cannabis since 1991 when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. "I'm here because cannabis is the only drug that helps my pain," she said.
Mrs Bradley added that she was surprised by the police action. "I thought, I honestly thought they had just agreed to monitor the situation," she said.
Mr Davies' frustrations will not be helped if, as has been rumoured, discretionary use of cannabis is permitted by David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, in neighbouring Manchester under an extension of a Brixton pilot project in which police issue warnings, not prosecutions, to users.
Within an hour of the Dutch Experience being searched and closed, at least three protesters repaired, uninhibited, to another Stockport cafe, where they lit up without ceremony.
Landlord Takes 'Pot' Cafe Man To Court
John Scheerhout, Manchester Evening News, Thursday 20 Sep 2001
Cannabis campaigner Colin Davies will be in court today as a landlord tries to put an end to his Amsterdam-style marijuana cafe. On Saturday, police arrested Mr Davies and five others in a raid at the Dutch Experience in Stockport.
It had been touted as Britain's first cannabis cafe.
The raid prompted the retired builder to back down after initially promising to sell the drug to social smokers to subsidise his "patients", whom he claims need it to ease the pain of various medical conditions.
As soon as he was released on police bail pending further inquiries, Colin, 44, re-opened the cafe on Hooper Street but insisted he would be selling only
tea and coffee.
But police have threatened his landlord, Leda Securities Northern Ltd, in Macclesfield, with prosecution if cannabis is supplied on the premises.
The company immediately launched court proceedings and today it will ask a High Court judge at Manchester Crown Court to grant an injunction preventing the sale of cannabis on the premises.
Mr Davies, who claims police took a computer from his home in Brinnington, says the real losers are his customers.
He said: "The patients are very distressed after the police stole their medicine. They seem intent on allowing ill people to suffer by their actions."
Cannabis cafe man charged
The Times, Tuesday 25 Sep 2001
The man who tried to open the first cannabis cafe in Britain was charged with drug smuggling yesterday. Colin Davies, 44, was initially arrested after he launched an Amsterdam-style coffee shop in Stockport, Manchester.
He was freed without charge but arrested at his flat again on Saturday and interviewed about the seizure by Customs and Excise at Dover of a number of marijuana packages. Mr Davies was granted bail and will appear before Stockport magistrates today accused of involvement in the importation of drugs.
Cannabis Cafes Set To Open In London
James Lewis, The Guardian Weekly, Saturday 06 Oct 2001
Tim Summers, a cannabis campaigner, plans to open the first licensed, Dutch-style cannabis
cafes in Britain, including one fast takeaway service.
He intends to locate them in Brixton, south London, encouraged by the current sixmonth
experiment under which police in Lambeth do not arrest people found in possession of small
amounts of cannabis.
Mr Summers said that, in keeping with Dutch regulations, his cafes would not advertise,
and would not sell more than 30g of cannabis to each customer, who would have to be more
than 18 years of age. They would not sell hard drugs or alcohol, but would try to hit the criminal street trade by staying open for long hours.
The Metropolitan Police said that it would be for the Home Office to decide whether the cafes
should be allowed to operate. In Greater Manchester recently the owner of a would-be cannabis cafe was arrested before he had opened
Why Britain is going Dutch
Malcolm Dean, The Guardian, Wednesday 24 Oct 2001
Has David Blunkett taken the first step down the road to decriminalising cannabis? He insists that he has not.
In his statement to the House of Commons home affairs select committee on Tuesday, Blunkett announced that he wanted cannabis reclassified from a class B to a class C drug, making possession a minor non-arrestable offence. He argued that this would be quite different from decriminalisation, explaining: "Cannabis would remain a controlled drug and using it a criminal offence." Indeed, he could have reminded MPs that cannabis possession would still be an imprisonable offence with a maximum sentence of two years.
And yet it is not quite that simple. As the chart illustrates, even before the proposed new change, there has been a massive increase in the proportion of offenders cautioned over the past 25 years. Formal cautions now account for half of all sanctions against arrested drug offenders, compared with just 3% in 1974. Fines have dropped from almost 60% to just over 20%. Imprisonment has fallen from just above 10% to just below.
The large shifts relate to the huge proportion of drug offences linked to possession. Over 90% of all drug charges relate to possession, cannabis accounting for 75% of these. As the number of drug offences climbed from 12,500 in 1974 to 113,000 in 1997, cannabis possession continued to dominate, making up some 86,000 cases in 1997.
Big police forces, like the Met, used cautions to divert people from the courts. Without this initiative, courts would have ground to a halt, as the Police Foundation's independent inquiry into the Misuse of Drugs Act noted last year. But even cautions, which have to be recorded by the police, eat up police time: an average of three hours for each arrest for possession.
This is one reason why the police were so keen to see a change in the law.
Under the Blunkett proposals - which have been piloted for the past six months in the Brixton area of London - police officers would no longer have to arrest people caught for possession. Instead, they would be able to give them an informal warning rather than take them to the police station for a formal caution: a major saving in police time.
In the words of Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan police commissioner:
"Reclassification could reduce the time spent by officers dealing with such offenders, enabling them to concentrate on tackling more serious crimes such as street robbery, which has increased in London in recent months."
One problem with the current system, which could affect the new one, is the huge variation between forces in the use of police discretion. It narrowed over the 1990s, but in 1997 cautions as a percentage of arrests still ranged from 22% to 72% . Under the new proposals, police discretion would extend to three options: informal warning, formal caution or a prosecution recommendation. The current disparities in the use of cautions, which critics argue undermine the respect for the criminal justice system because of its uneven handedness, could continue.
Viscountess Runciman, who chaired the Police Foundation's inquiry, echoed earlier reports on the need for cautions (and now informal warnings) to be placed on a statutory footing, reinforced by guidelines.
The UK has not decriminalised, but it is heading towards the subtle Dutch approach, which was designed to separate soft from hard drugs. Its policy dates back to 1976, when it formally declared people would not be prosecuted for possessing small amounts of cannabis, and was widened further in 1980, when the sale of cannabis at coffee shops became tolerated.
Despite their more liberal approach, the Dutch have fewer people using cannabis than the UK; smaller increases in its use; a more stable and less serious hard drug problem; and fewer drug-related deaths.
The independent inquiry noted that cannabis was not harmless. It can slow reactions for 24 hours, affecting the ability to drive and concentrate.
Heavy use can produce temporary acute psychosis and exacerbate schizophrenia symptoms. If smoked on a heavy and regular basis, it has all the long-term effects of tobacco. But what persuaded the independent commission of the need for change was that the current law was doing more harm than the drug.
The UK has the toughest laws in Europe, but they have neither reduced supply nor demand. There has been a substantial increase in drug use, with no problems of getting access. The independent inquiry accepted the current legal framework, a hierarchy of drugs depending on their harmfulness, but concluded that the current classifications no longer reflected current scientific, medical or sociological evidence. It called for a rescheduling, reducing cannabis from class B to C, and ecstasy and LSD from class A to
Mr Blunkett only accepted the first proposal. Moreover, the inquiry wanted drug use to be seen as a health rather than a criminal problem, suggesting imprisonment should no longer be a penalty for possession of class B or C drugs. Imprisoning users does more harm than good.
Mr Blunkett may feel he has done enough - and that he has shot the home affairs committee's fox by changing the policy just as it was about to conduct its inquiry into the effectiveness of the current law. But the opposite is just as likely. Given the public, police and drug specialists' support for change, the committee's hearings could generate wide support for even greater modifications.
Roll up, roll up at Britain's first cafe for dope smokers
Anthony Browne in Stockport, The Observer, Saturday 10 Nov 2001
The directions from Stockport Tourist Information were enthusiastic.
'Turn left on to the A6, and walk across the open land. You can't miss it,' said the telephonist.
Stockport, which has until now been famous only for its hat museum, has never seen anything like it. Over the last two months hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been making determined pilgrimages there from London, Edinburgh, Carlisle and Milton Keynes. They come by train and car in pursuit of news spreading by word of mouth and internet: Stockport is home to Britain's first-ever Amsterdam-style coffee shop.
Tucked away in a quiet, cobbled retail centre, the innocuous-seeming 'Dutch Experience' is betrayed only by the sound of garrulous chatter and the distinctive smell of marijuana wafting in the autumn air.
Outside, between the pictures of cannabis leaves, signs warn: 'Over 18 only, ID required' and 'No alcohol, or drunk and disorderly persons on the premises'. Inside, alcohol is the last thing on people's minds.
From its opening at 10 in the morning to closing at 10 at night, the Dutch Experience is packed with people rolling joints, inhaling deeply and grinning peacefully. By lunchtime last Wednesday, there were at least 50 people in its two rooms, by evening over 100. No one bothered to hide this still illegal activity. It's all totally open.
Its founder, Colin Davies, a former carpenter, said the numbers increased sharply after the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, announced that cannabis possession will no longer be an arrestable offence, and reckons he gets more than 500 visitors a day. 'I've created a monster,' he laughs, as he sits on the bench, taking a puff. 'They're coming from all over the country - the closest coffee shop is in Holland.'
His customers sit playing cards or table football, drinking coffee or Coca-Cola, chatting and criticising each other's joint-rolling abilities. 'I've never seen anyone take so long to roll a spliff,' scolds one woman.
Some are nervous on their first visit, while others have been coming every day since it opened on 15 September. Paul Cooper, 18, who this week starts working for a government project on drug use, is one of the regulars: 'It's such a calm, quiet atmosphere in here; there's never been a raised voice. There's been no fights. It's not like a pub, where
you drink 10 pints of Stella, and it all gets very rowdy.'
Billy Roberts, 44, a bricklayer, comes as often as he can from Bolton.
'This place is brilliant - it's just like the ones in Holland. You know what you are getting when you come here. Colin Davies is making history - he's a real hero,' he puffed.
Davies became a cannabis activist after shattering his back in a fall and finding that the illegal drug was the best one for relieving pain.
In 1996 he started the underground medical marijuana co-operative, secretly growing cannabis as a painkiller for people suffering from multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, who had to provide a doctor's certificate to prove eligibility. He was prosecuted twice by police, but both times juries simply acquitted him because he was helping sick people.
But it was the Conservative politician Peter Lilley who inadvertently persuaded him to open the Dutch Experience. On a plane to visit a coffee-shop owner in Amsterdam, Davies read about Lilley calling for the legalisation of cannabis, and by the time he landed he thought the time was right for coffee shops in Britain.
The purpose of the coffee shop is to use the money made from social users of cannabis to provide it free - or at cost price - for medicinal users. 'People in wheelchairs shouldn't have to pay for their medicine - they should get it free, and that's what we're doing,' said Davies.
One woman, in her early forties, whose hands are crippled with rheumatoid arthritis, was particularly appreciative: 'This stuff is much better quality than what you get on the street - I've been sold Oxo cubes so many times. It gets to my bones better - the pain relief is far
better than anything I can get from the doctor. And I get it for free - I couldn't afford to buy it.'
Two weeks before opening, Davies and his Dutch partner Nol van Scheik wrote to the police and the council setting out their plans. The police raided on the day he opened, but they reopened a few hours later and since then the police have left them alone. The council didn't reply to the letter, but instead sent them a rates bill. 'That's the only licence I will get from the council,' said Davies.
He stays on the right side of police tolerance by not selling cannabis openly through a booth with a menu - he only plans to do that when he feels the time is right. But he makes sure customers have no trouble getting hold of either super-skunk grass or Lebanese gold resin.
The council has not had a single complaint from the public, and is turning a blind eye. Its leader, Fred Ridley, said: 'This is not a matter for the council, but for the police. If someone wants to test the law - and that's the way the law has been changed before - they must accept the consequences if the law of the land is enforced.'
Manchester Police said in a statement: 'We recognise there is ongoing debate and research into the medical benefits or otherwise of cannabis.
The police, in appropriate cases, exercise discretion and judgment.'
The Dutch Experience has had open support from the local MEP, Chris Davies, who has visited twice. 'I applaud it. It seems an excellent way of meetings people's desire to try things other than alcohol without leading them on to harder things,' he said.
Other cannabis campaigners are eyeing the Stockport trailblazer withenvy, and there are already plans to open them in Worthing, Taunton and Brixton.
Second raid on cannabis cafe
The BBC, Monday 19 Nov 2001
Police have arrested 12 people during a raid on a cafe which advocates the use of cannabis in Greater Manchester.
The raid was carried out just before 1300 GMT on Tuesday at the "Dutch Experience Cafe" which opened in Stockport in September.
The cafe was full of customers when officers arrived to execute a search warrant while a BBC film crew was at the scene recording interviews.
A large quantity of cash and what police believe is cannabis was recovered.
Superintendent Richard Crawshaw from Greater Manchester Police said: "It would be unwise for anyone to make the assumption that flagrant defiance of the law has or ever will be tolerated."
A police statement read: "Officers of the Stockport division executed a warrant issued by Stockport Magistrates under the Misuse of Drugs Act at the Dutch Experience Cafe on Cooper Street, Stockport."
"A total of 12 people were arrested, 11 men and one woman."
Three people were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the management of premises being used contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act.
One was also arrested for possession with intent to supply a controlled drug, and nine were arrested for possessing a controlled drug.
It is understood that the veteran cannabis campaigner Colin Davies was among those arrested. It is the second time there has been a police raid at the premises which Mr Davies helps to run. Last time he was bailed pending further investigations.
He has previously called for the legalisation of the drug for medicinal purposes and he founded the Medical Marijuana Co-operative to sell cannabis for pain relief.
He has also said he was forced to use the drug out of medical necessity and supplied it to two sufferers of multiple sclerosis for the same reason.
Mr Davies attracted media attention when he handed a cannabis plant posy to the Queen during her trip to Manchester with the Duke of Edinburgh in October last year.
A tea, a coffee and two joints, please...
Ian Herbert, The Independent, Monday 19 Nov 2001
Business is on a high at Britain's first cannabis cafe, Dutch Experiencein Stockport. Ian Herbert joins the crowds and discovers that theproprietor Colin Davies already has ambitious plans for the future
The first hint that something mildly taboo lies near Marge's TarotStudio and the Uniline gymnasium, in backstreet Stockport, comes fromschoolboys skulking around the corner in Bridgefield Street. "Go in andget some for us, mate. I've got the tenner," pleads Dave, whosecomplexion and companions - three uniformed fourth formers - do littleto advance his brave claim to be 18.
"What they're selling in there."
He means the weed. Every self-respecting Stockport schoolboy knows that Dutch Experience, Britain's first Amsterdam-style coffee shop, is downstairs from Marge's place, though they're learning from painful experience that they won't get their hands on so much as one of its Mars bars, let alone a £15 packet of Lebanese gold resin or skunk grass.
There's already a designated graveyard for forged ID cards behind the coffee bar - testimony to the rigour with which an over-18s rule is policed. Dave's ID lies within it: he'd evidently gone it alone some time earlier. Amid animated chatter and a delicious, late afternoon fug of marijuana smoke, 44-year-old Colin Davies, the proprietor, looks like a man who could use a joint. The under-age teenagers have been trying it on since lunchtime; someone's jammed the table football and the relentless call on his 40p teas and 50p coffees has taken its toll on his milk supply, with a full six hours to closing. "We started out asking the milkman for four litres a day," he says, watching one of hiscoffee bar-staff stagger in with bottles of semi-skimmed. "We put it upto 12 and it's still way off."
Davies stumbled on a goldmine when he set up the café in partnership with Nol van Schaik, the creator of Amsterdam's founding cannabis cafe, two months ago. He's currently attracting 500 patrons a week and there were never fewer than 50 between noon and 10pm (closing time) last Friday. A second Dutch Experience opened in Worthing last Wednesday, andoutlets are planned for Dundee, Preston, and neighbouring Manchester.
A report published today by the scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Findings for the home affairs select committee will do no harm either, calling for more such establishments to solve many of the drug-related deaths and health problems traditionally associated with cannabis use.
For Davies, this is all a long way from the patients' smoking room at the Sheffield spinal injuries unit where, on Christmas Eve 1995, he was lying flat on his back, dosed up with morphine and temporarily paralysed by breaks to three vertebrae, caused by a fall. There, he met a paraplegic car crash victim who first told him to try cannabis for the pain. He shared her joint and was beginning to appreciate the benefits when his father arrived to wheel him back to the ward.
He could have used more cannabis immediately but since the accident had done for his promising career in carpentry and state benefits were providing him with just £65 a week to live off, he started growing his own. Within a year, Davies had encountered four patients in the same predicament and each started chipping in for seed that he grew in a
back room and shipped out by secure mail order. He established the Medical Marijuana Co-operative, the kind of venture he'd read was working in the US. Davies was already attracting the attention of the medical fraternity when a police raid resulted in him being tried at Manchester Crown Court, charged with intent to supply, in 1996.
His spectacular acquittal on the testimony of patients from Edinburgh and Leeds was a turning point - "one of those things that life deals you, “he says.
It meant word was out about his co-operative and dozens suffering the pain of multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis realised that the embarrassment of their covert trips to street dealers was no longer necessary: 200 signed up with the necessary authorisation certificates, signed by their GPs. Many of them would still rather receive their cannabis in brown envelopes than step into the bohemian cafe, with its external faux Victorian lamps, salmon pink roller blinds and pea green tables, which were shipped in from Amsterdam, but the sight of wheelchairs being pulled from vehicles is now familiar in Bridgefield
They belong to people such as Jane - Davies's "resident miracle" from north Manchester, who was registered blind in 1986 when MS took hold. A note from her GP remarks on the "remarkable improvement" of her health since she began taking Davies's high quality cannabis 12 months ago.
"It's the quality of the stuff - much better quality than what you get on the street," she says. "I've been sold Oxo cubes so many times but this stuff is free and it reaches my bones better - the pain relief's better than anything the doctor gives me. I couldn't afford to buy it."
Other customers include Kate Bradley, a former drugs squad officer with the West Midlands police force, who has smoked cannabis since her MS was diagnosed in 1991 and supports his project. And there is Laurence Brearley, a 57-year-old former lorry driver currently in care 15 miles away, who makes weekly visits by taxi at Davies's expense and regales the house with stories of his long-distance days.
"It's the MHS - the Marijuana Health Service," laughs Davies, pleased with the joke, the eclectic bunch he has gathered and the fulfilment of his café's purpose - to use the money made from social users of cannabis to provide it free or at cost price for medicinal users. Co-operative members now just get a note, asking for a contribution to funds if they
feel able. "People in wheelchairs shouldn't have to pay for their medicine, they should get it free, and that's what we're doing," said Davies.
The cafe's number of recreational users increased sharply to around 300 a week after the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, announced that cannabis possession will no longer be an arrestable offence.
"They're feeling great because they can walk around with weed in their pocket," says Davies, puffing away in front of a coffee bar adorned with his cannabis memorabilia, including a framed photograph of the moment he handed the Queen a bunch of flowers with reefers inside, last year.
Local police seem resigned to Mr Blunkett's effective decriminalization of cannabis, too. Their attempts to arrest Davies on the morning the cafe opened in September, ended in scuffles and loud chants of "We want to smoke weed", sung to the tune of Queen's "I Want to Break Free". But though an estimated 500 joints a week are now exchanging hands, officers have since visited just twice: once to assist after a burglary, once to
hand back property seized in the raid. "We recognise there is ongoing debate and research into the medical benefits or otherwise of cannabis," said Greater Manchester Police, in a statement. "The police, in appropriate cases, exercise discretion and judgement."
Stockport council seems equally relaxed. It didn't reply to a letter from Davies, which set out his plans two weeks before opening, but sent him a rates bill instead. The establishment is not being disturbed because it simply does not attract trouble. "No alcohol, or drunk and disorderly persons on the premises," states a sign inside. "Alcohol is not a part of the mature cannabis culture and the cafe is giving us the chance to educate people about that," says Davies. To date, he has not goaded drugs squad officers by selling cannabis openly through a booth with a menu, though this is in his plans.
Dutch Experience won't become a franchise operation but individuals who seem committed to the cause - such as MS sufferer Chris Baldwin in Worthing - will be given the knowledge and back-up to open other outlets, with a "10 per cent override" to Stockport. At least one North West commercial developer has also approached Davies to point out the value of the upper-middle class market in the south Manchester suburbs five miles away.
"He said I could be selling cappuccinos for £3 instead of 50p Nescafe instants and flog £15 bags of weed for £30," Davies reveals. "But it's not my thing, really. I'm just desperate to get Dundee up and running in the New Year. We've got patients on our co-operative list from the Orkneys and it means we can transfer them up there."
Three on drugs charges after coffee house raid
Ananova, Tuesday 20 Nov 2001
Three men have been charged with a variety of drugs offences after officers seized a large quantity of cannabis during a raid on a Dutch-style coffee house.
Officers also uncovered a large amount of cash during Tuesday's search of The Dutch Experience Cafe, in Stockport, Greater Manchester.
Colin Davies, 44, of Romney Towers, Brinnington, Stockport, has been remanded in custody by Stockport magistrates to reappear before them, to face seven charges.
He is accused of permitting premises to be used for the smoking of cannabis, possessing cannabis with the intent to supply, possessing a controlled drug and being concerned in the supply of cannabis.
Phillip Rainford, 34, of Millgate, Market Place, Stockport, was also charged with permitting premises to be used for the smoking of cannabis. He was bailed by police to appear before Stockport magistrates.
A third man, Stephen Caveney, 47, of Rishworth Close, Offerton, was also bailed by police and will appear alongside the pair charged with offering to supply a controlled drug.
A total of 12 people, including 11 men and one woman, were arrested following the lunchtime raid.
The remaining nine who were arrested during the raid have been cautioned for possession of cannabis.
More Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes on the menu
Ananova, Tuesday 20 Nov 2001
The arrest of the owner of Britain's first cannabis cafe is unlikely to deter others from opening similar Amsterdam-style coffee shops.
Colin Davies, who runs the Dutch Experience in Stockport, has been charged with a number of drug-related offences including permitting premises to be used for the smoking of cannabis.
But Mark Gibson, who is aiming to set up a cannabis cafe in Carlisle, says the police raid doesn't change anything.
He told Ananova: "You can expect no more. It won't break our spirit."
Mr Gibson is one of a number of people planning cafes in Cumbria, Devon, Sussex and Dundee. Before Tuesday's raid he said police were likely to "use discretion" when dealing with them.
Before his arrest, Mr Davies told Ananova such cafes could become widespread. "I can foresee there being a hundred of these places in the next year or so," he said.
However, a Home Office spokesman said: "Cannabis will still remain a controlled drug for both possession and supply."
And a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: "The decision as to whether such cannabis cafes would be introduced in Britain is a matter for Government."
DrugScope, a charity that has just compiled a report for the Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into drug laws, has looked at the system of licensed cafes in Amsterdam. A spokesman for the charity says it has advantages and disadvantages which would need to be further examined.
Cannabis Cafe Man In Court
Manchester Evening News, Wednesday 21 Nov 2001
Cannabis campaigner Colin Davies was due to appear before magistrates in Stockport on Thursday charged with allowing people to smoke the drug in his Amsterdam-style cafe. Mr Davies, 44, of Romney Towers, Brinnington, Stockport and two others have been charged with drug offences following a police raid at the Dutch Experience in Hooper Street on Tuesday afternoon.
Mr Davies faces two charges of permitting premises to be used for the smoking of cannabis.
He is also charged with two counts of cannabis possession with intent to supply and two of possession of controlled drugs.
He is also charged with being concerned in the supply of cannabis.
Mr Davies was arrested as he was being interviewed by a regional TV crew from the BBC.
Nine other people who were arrested during the raid at the cafe were cautioned by police.
Phillip Rainford, 34, of Millgate, Market Place, Stockport, is charged with permitting premises to be used for the smoking of cannabis, and Stephen Caveney, 47, of Rishworth Close in Offerton, Stockport, is charged with offering to supply a controlled drug.
Mr Rainford and Mr Caveney were due to appear before magistrates this afternoon.
English pot smokers' pub may prove a model
Sarah Lyall, New York Times, Wednesday 21 Nov 2001
STOCKPORT, England, - Until the Dutch Experience cafe opened here earlier this fall, providing marijuana by the bag instead of beer by the pint, Stockport never loomed particularly large in the greater British imagination.
"I read in the newspaper that the only thing Stockport is famous for is the hat museum," said Darren Ince, 32, a retail manager, on his way to secure a joint or two at the cafe recently. "I didn't know we were even famous for that."
All that changed this fall, when the cafe opened its doors, let the distinctive smoke waft out and instantly turned this unremarkable suburb of Manchester into a battleground for Britain's growing pot smokers' rights movement.
The Dutch Experience, modeled on the pot-purveying coffee shops of marijuana-friendly Amsterdam, may well prove to be the thin end of the wedge in Britain, where the government is signaling that it might relax laws on the use of soft drugs in the name of creating a workable drug policy.
British drug laws are strict, and the police spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with minor drug offenses, the government says. Sixty-five percent of the 120,000 drug- related arrests in Britain last year were for possession of marijuana.
Saying the police should direct their efforts at eradicating hard drugs like heroin and LSD, Home Secretary David Blunkett last month proposed downgrading marijuana to a Class C drug, from its current Class B status. That would make possession of pot no longer an arrestable offense.
A pilot project in Brixton, a drug- infested neighborhood in south London where police officers spent six months focusing on hard drugs instead of marijuana, has proved effective, the police say.
But Mr. Blunkett's proposals have not yet taken effect, and law enforcement officials across the country are not exactly sure what to do in this interim period.
It is unclear, for instance, what the Stockport police really think of the Dutch Experience. After raiding it in September, on the day it opened, they seemed to have adopted a live-and- let-smoke policy, generously acknowledging, they said in a statement, that there is an "ongoing debate
about the medical benefits, or otherwise, of cannabis."
But it appears that the cafe has been attracting too much attention and too boldly flouting the law, no matter how mellow its activities might seem.
On Tuesday, as the BBC was inside filming the cafe for a program about drug policy, the police returned, threw everyone out and charged the owner, Colin Davies, and several others with various drug-related offenses, including selling marijuana.
"The police in appropriate cases exercise discretion and judgment with regard to certain offenses of simple possession of cannabis, and each case is taken on merit," said Superintendent Richard Crawshaw of the Greater Manchester Police's Stockport division. "However, in the face of overt and challenging behavior which amounts to intention to break the law, our stance will be one of enforcement."
It is hard to know how far such enforcement goes. Even as Mr. Davies, one of Britain's best-known campaigners for legalizing marijuana, remained in custody overnight, his cafe reopened. The patrons came back, sipping coffee, rolling joints, discussing nothing and everything.
Despite the occasional police raids, the cannabis cafe, as it is generally known, has proved highly popular with its neighbors. They applaud its strict no-alcohol, no-violence policy, saying they much prefer happy, peaceful druggies to aggressive, unpleasant drunks.
"They always look so pleased, and they're really friendly," said Becky Lees, who works at the front desk of the Outline health club, just across the walkway, speaking of the pot smokers at the Dutch Experience.
She does not smoke - "I'm addicted to coffee, not cannabis," she said - but always welcomes customers who come in from the Dutch Experience, which sells little in the way of food to vanquish the sudden appetites of its often ravenous clientele.
"We get a lot of business out of it, because they get the munchies and come
and eat in our cafe," Ms. Lees said.
Eating, yes. But no weightlifting. "We don't let people use the gym if they've been smoking weed," she said. "It's not a good idea, for safety reasons, to let people who are stoned use the machines."
Mr. Davies, who uses the profits from recreational patrons at the Dutch Experience to help pay for pot for medicinal users, says he started smoking marijuana to quell crippling back pains from the vertebrae he broke after a fall in 1995.
Shortly afterward, he founded the Medical Marijuana Cooperative, a mail-order service that discreetly provides pot to people with a variety of illnesses, from cancer to multiple sclerosis. Mr. Davies, 44, jokingly calls the cafe the M.H.S., or the Marijuana Health Service. The National Health Service, or N.H.S., runs Britain's system of socialized medicine.
It is not uncommon to see wheelchair users rolling down the path in front of the cafe, seeking drugs inside. "People in wheelchairs shouldn't have to pay for their medicine," said Mr. Davies, who hopes to open a chain of cannabis cafes around Britain. "They should get it free, and that's what we're doing."
Mark Chadwick, 39, who hurt his arm in a motorcycle accident, does not care if he can get it free or not, as long as he can get it. For the last month or so he has been regularly paying £10 (about $14) or so per bag of pot, enough to roll a half-dozen joints that help keep him off his prescribed
painkillers and make it easier to sleep at night.
Mr. Chadwick loves the smoky, sleepy atmosphere inside the cafe, with its green tables imported from Amsterdam and its air of festively illicit camaraderie.
"It's nothing like going to a pub," he said. "It's like going to the theater instead of going to a movie. In a pub you spend all your time worrying about who's looking at you, who's going to throw a bottle at you."
At the cannabis cafe, no one throws anything. Because no hard drugs are allowed, there are no dealers trying to introduce patrons to the double-edged, and far more criminal, attractions of drugs like heroin and cocaine.
"If I couldn't buy here, I would have to go to a dealer, which is something I don't want to do," Mr. Chadwick said.
At the Stockport Tourist Information center, employees say the Dutch Experience has become one of the most asked-about places in town.
A spokeswoman, who in keeping with tourist office policy insisted that her name not be used, declined to say whether she, or any other council employees, had patronized the cafe themselves. "It's certainly put us on the map," she said, "though whether that's a positive thing or a negative thing I couldn't say."
Action: Who wants to be arrested with me ??? November 22
Next saturday, let's take the action to the policestation, so they won't have to come to the DE all the time, let's come out and be locked in for what we believe, and for Colin !!
Roll up, light up and let's get arrested...
Colin is being kept in prison until the 29th!!!
We just heard that there was no decision on Colin's charges yet, he will be held in custody until the 29th of November!!
Something is very wrong in the UK, Colin is a sick person, who should not de deprived of his medicine whilst in prison.
Let's get something changed next saturday, show up, light up and give yourself in, at the right moment, Colin must be free, or joined by many!!!
Plans for saturday...
Well, spoke to a lot of people, amongst whom Mark Gibson, who attended the courts misuse of law act in Stockport today.
There was no way the magistrate was goin to let Colin out on bail, must be a wicked man, with a marble heart.
Mark told me that Colin's Mom even offered to keep him at her place, to keep him from the DE's premises, the magistrate thinks Colin might re-offend....
O.K., there's two things for next Saturday, the most important thing, the offering of us, "Cannacrooks", in posession of a joint, to the local arm of he law...
The action will start at 14.00 hrs, at the Dutch Experience in Stockport, with the purpose to defy the unreal laws on cannabisposession.
The meeting of the future cannabiscafe-owners will be at 11.00 hrs, meeting up in the Dutch Experience...
When I cam down here, I did not know what to expect, I surely did not expect that Colin would be in four 10 days...
I spoke to Chris, the solicitor, about what had happened, and about what to do next. Chris told me I am going to be charged on December 11, for being concerned in the management of an establishment, allowing the use of an illegal substance on the premises, as Colin was charged, amongst other charges.
He also told me I was going to be arrested when I am present in the DE, as a suspect for the same thing, management of etc...
That's why I am not present in the DE yet, no use in being arrested on my own...
Before going to the DE, on Saturdayafternoon, I want to have a talk with those who are planning to open a cannafe, or coffeeshop in their area. We need to know how long it takes before the next coffeeshop is bound to open, and how to go about with that.
After that, I hope to gather with a lot of strong-willed supporters of Colin and the Dutch Experience, in the Dutch Experience.
Everybody who is willing to be in on the mass arrest action, should be prepared to be charged with posession, with the intent to consume, or so..
Nobody should have more than a joint, on the moment the police arrives. If the police do as they say, they will have to come and arrest me, for being there. All we need to do is let them know, so, somebody should call the police about me being there, smoking a joint.
The Dutch national tv (Nova) and the BBC 1 will be present, any other press will be welcome....
Now. if the cops come in to arrest me, they can't ignore all of you, hopefully hundreds, holding or smoking a joint !
Their duty tells them to arrest everyone in posession, as they did on September 15 and November 20th. A lot of people threw their cannabis on the floor, during the last bust, so he police only arrested those in posession.
Next Saturday, however, I hope that everybody will hold on to his joint, so the police will be confronted with all of us having to be arrested!!
The major question is, will they do that, and can the do that, logistically, considering the amount of cells we would keep occupied....
I say they can't, I am not sure about the will not...
If they do not arrest the lot, in the presence of the media, what can they do in the future...
The solicitor will be present to follow the procedures...
Police station cannabis protest
BBC News Online, Friday 23 Nov 2001
Twelve people were arrested after allegedly smoking cannabis outside a police station in Greater Manchester.
The action was part of a protest in support of Colin Davies, the owner of the Dutch Experience cafe in Stockport.
He has been charged with supplying the drug at the premises in the town centre.
About 30 people marched from the cafe on Saturday to the steps of Stockport police station where a dozen people were involved in smoking cannabis.
'Smoked a joint'
One protester called Mindy said: "We were doing this in support of Colin.
The protesters were arrested when they smoked a joint.
"The police are trying to stop the cafe but we are up and running and we aren't going to stop.
"We will hold another march next week which will be even bigger."
Father-of-two Mr Davies, 43, is currently remanded in custody after being arrested on 20 November. He appeared before Stockport magistrates on Friday where he was described as operating as a drug dealer in the cafe.
Reporting restrictions were lifted at the hearing which was attended by dozens of his supporters.
His solicitor Lesley Herman said Mr Davies set up the cafe to help who wanted the drug for medical purposes to obtain cannabis.
Mr Davies, from Brinnington, Stockport, was seized by police as he began an interview with BBC television.
Greater Manchester Police confirmed that 12 people were arrested on Saturday in connection with drug offences and said the demonstration was peaceful.
Cannabis protesters charged
The BBC, Saturday 24 Nov 2001
Police have charged 10 cannabis campaigners who were arrested after allegedly lighting up outside a police station.
They were among 30 demonstrators who descended on Stockport police station in Greater Manchester on Saturday to protest about a raid on Britain's first Dutch-style coffee shop.
Their protest was in support of veteran cannabis campaigner Colin Davies, who was arrested during Tuesday's raid at the Dutch Experience Cafe in Stockport.
Mr Davies, 44, who has smoked cannabis since he broke his spine four years ago, launched the controversial venture earlier this year, saying he hoped to offer cannabis to sick people to relieve their symptoms.
A Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said 10 people were due to appear before Stockport magistrates on Tuesday charged with drug-related offences.
A 38-year-old man from Scotland, also arrested at the demonstration, was released with a caution while a 34-year-old man from Scunthorpe was released on police bail.
Those arrested during the protest, staged shortly before 1500 GMT on Saturday, are alleged to have smoked the drug outside the police station.
A total of nine people were charged with possession of cannabis.
They were named as Nicholas Bowden, 48, of Orchid Drive, Bury; John Bell, 31, of Hopwood Street, Accrington; Philip Lockwood, 44, of Ashton Road, Oldham; Karen Hughes and Robin Wright, both 45, of Duncan Road, Longsight; Richard Lea, 23, of Barrow Meadow, Cheadle Hulme; Patman Denning, 37, of Milton Keynes and Christopher Baldwin, 51, and Trevor Scott, 45, both of Worthing, East Sussex.
James Ward, 29, of Amsterdam, was charged with supplying or offering to supply cannabis.
Cannabis Protesters Arrested After March To Police Station
The Observer, Saturday 01 Dec 2001
Three patrons of Britain's first ever Dutch-style coffee house have been arrested after a pro-cannabis demonstration.
The men were arrested after 40 demonstrators marched from the Dutch Experience cafe in Stockport to the local police station.
The Laugh at the Law demonstration was organised to call for the legalisation of cannabis.
Protesters were also showing their support for the Dutch Experience cafe-owner Colin Davies, who has been remanded in custody following a raid on the premises last week.
He faces charges of permitting premises to be used for the smoking of cannabis, possessing cannabis with intent to supply, possessing a controlled drug and being concerned with the supply of cannabis.
The three men arrested for possession of cannabis by Greater Manchester police were a 24-year-old from Somerset, a 21-year-old from Stockport and a 29-year-old from Stretford, Greater Manchester.
Colin's bail has been refused again !! Dec.3, 2001
Wich means he can be held on remand until January 2002 !!
The solicitors are preparing legal steps to a higher court, and the European Court, as I was told by Phil Lockwood.
How do we get Colin out before X-mas, so he can be home to his lads, like he should!
This makes me feel rotten, and far beyond pissed, why are the flaws in the outdated cannabislaws all projected on one campaigner....
What can we do to keep showing the authorities it is no longer usefull to prosecute cannabists ?
Who has the magic Brainwave ??
No charges against me ??!! December 7, 2001.
I was just called by Chris Hinnett, the solicitor, about me not having to appear at the Manchester Magistrate, next tuesday!!
I will not be charged, as I should be, with posession and supplying of an illegal substance.
Why, they saw me do it!
Does this mean that everybody arrested after me in and for the DE, is going to be aquitted too ??
I think so, equal rights for everyone !!!
Now, protest against your eventual charges, for posession and supplying, what goes for me, should go for all !! (NvS)
Euro MP's Drugs Protest
Manchester Evening News, Tuesday 11 Dec 2001
A EURO MP is planning to walk into a Stockport police station and demand to be arrested for possessing cannabis. Chris Davies is so angry at the treatment of a local cannabis campaigner that he is prepared to put his political career on the line to support him.
He faces arrest and could end up in custody for up to three hours.
Mr Davies, who is calling for legalisation of drugs, is taking the dramatic step to demonstrate his support for Colin Davies, who has been in custody charged with drug offences.
Police raided Mr Davies' Dutch Experience coffee shop, in Hooper Street, Stockport, where cannabis has been supplied to people who need it for medicinal purposes. It is Britain's first ''cannabis cafe''.
As part of a protest on Saturday, Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat MEP in the European Parliament, is planning to attend the town's main police station and demand to be arrested on charges of possession of a small quantity of cannabis resin.
The starting point for the protest is the Dutch Experience Coffee Shop and - if arrested and released - he will take part in a public meeting in the main shopping centre.
He has had to consult Liberal Democrat chiefs before making his stand.
Mr Davies, who does not take drugs himself, points out that Liberal Democrats are to discuss calls for non-prosecution of people for possession and social supply of cannabis at their party conference in Manchester next March.
''I believe all drugs should be legalised to cut crime,'' said Mr Davies. ''Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol. It is time politicians started to speak out about it publicly.''
Police say drugs protest MEP wasted officers' time
Ananova, Friday 14 Dec 2001
A Euro-MP arrested and charged for possession of cannabis has been attacked by police for wasting their time.
Liberal Democrat Chris Davies was taking part in a protest against Britain's drugs laws outside Stockport police station.
He has been ordered to appear before magistrates in the Greater Manchester town later this week.
It took 12 police officers to arrest Liberal Democrat Chris Davies after he arrived brandishing a tiny amount of the drug on the back of a postage stamp.
The force's Assistant Chief Constable, Med Hughes, has criticised the MEP for "wasting the time of hard-working officers" instead of campaigning to change laws on the drug through British and European political institutions.
But Mr Davies, MEP for the North-West of England, said that as a member of the European parliament, he was in no position to lobby for a change in British laws.
He said: "I am a European MP and have no influence over domestic law. I represent countries where the law has already been changed and am just hoping that Britain can be brought into line with European best practice."
Chris Davies, who is due at Stockport Magistrates Court on Thursday, December 20, said he had been assured by the officers arresting him that they had been enjoying a relatively quiet day and that he had caused them "no problems at all".
Earlier, Mr Davies had led dozens of cannabis campaigners on a march through Stockport in the latest in a string of protests following the opening of Britain's first Amsterdam-style coffee shop in the town.
The coffee shop - The Dutch Experience - was opened earlier this year by cannabis campaigner Colin Davies, who is being held on remand at Strangeways prison on drugs charges. He is no relation to the MEP.
Cannabis charge for MEP
Congleton Guardian, Tuesday 18 Dec 2001
CONGLETON MEP Chris Davies has been arrested and charged with possessing
He was arrested in a protest aimed at supporting the imprisoned owner of Britain's first Dutch-style "coffee shop."
Mr Davies was arrested at a Stockport police station on Saturday morning for possession of a small quantity of cannabis resin on a postage stamp.
He was subsequently charged, and was due to appear in court yesterday.
Mr Davies is aiming to draw attention to the experience of his constituent, Colin Davies, no relation, who founded the Dutch Experience coffee shop in Stockport.
He is in prison in Strangeways on remand awaiting trial on cannabis-related charges.
MEP Chris Davies has never smoked or used illegal drugs, but he believes that the law is in urgent need of reform.
"I am glad to have added myself to the dozens of people who have already been arrested in protests aimed at demonstrating their support for Colin Davies," he said after his arrest.
"The legal priorities are wrong. Last year nearly 800 young people in Britain died of alcohol-induced cirrhosis of the liver.
"Not one person died from the health effects of cannabis yet some 50,000 people were arrested for possession of the drug. It is not surprising that many police officers admit they have better things to do with their time than arrest people for a supposed offence
which causes no harm to anyone else."
He said this was an "untenable situation," and called for a comprehensive review of Britain's drug laws.
Cannabis-protest MEP elects trial by jury
Ananova, Wednesday 19 Dec 2001
A Euro MP has appeared in a Stockport court on drug charges.
Liberal democrat Chris Davies was arrested during a protest againsBritain's laws on cannabis.
He presented himself at Stockport Police Station brandishing a small amount of the prohibited drug on the back of a postage stamp.
The MEP for the North West of England appeared before magistrates in the town charged with possession after he was arrested by 12 police officers during the protest.
In front of a packed public gallery, Mr Davies of Greenfield in Oldham, indicated that he will plead not guilty to the charge and elected to have his case heard by a jury at Crown Court.
He was remanded on unconditional bail to appear before magistrates for committal on January 29. Reporting restrictions were lifted.
Outside the court, the 47-year-old MEP said he had elected trial by jury so that he could argue against Britain's disproportionate drug laws.
He said: "It is not proportionate that we can buy a bottle of whisky or any other alcohol that can cause more harm to the body and to society through the violence it engenders than a small amount of cannabis consumed in coffee or cake."
Davies was supported in his action by two Italian MEPs from their country's Radical Party. Outside court, Marco Cappato said: "We came here today to express our support, which is political support for Chris Davies and for his actions."
Mr Cappato then became the second Euro politician within a week to be arrested for possession of the drug after he walked from the court to the adjacent police station clutching a small amount of cannabis.
Italian MEP on drugs charges in UK
CNN, Thursday 20 Dec 2001
MANCHESTER, England -- An Italian MEP has appeared in court on a drugs charge after turning out to support his English counterpart arrested for a similar offence.
Marco Cappato, of Vendano, Milan, attended Stockport magistrates in Greater Manchester, on Friday, after having been arrested for possession of cannabis, the Press Association reported.
Cappato had presented himself outside the town's police station the day before clutching a small amount of the drug.
He had been in the town to back his English counterpart, Chris Davies, who was bailed on a similar offence on Thursday.
Davies, North West MEP, had been arrested on Saturday during a protest over what he called Britain's "ridiculous" drug laws.
Cappato, 30, a member of Italy's Radical Party, who spent the night in custody, spoke only to confirm his name and address and to elect trial by jury during the five-minute hearing.
He was released on unconditional bail to appear at the court on January 29.
Davies had also been remanded on unconditional bail.
Britain's Home Secretary David Blunkett told a Commons committee in October of his wish to re-classify cannabis from a class 'B' to a class 'C' drug, putting it on a par with anabolic steroids.
The plan has yet to become law.
Drug-Protest Euro MP's Night In Cells
Manchester Evening News, Thursday 20 Dec 2001
AN Italian Euro MP spent the night behind bars after taking part in aStockport campaign to change Britain's cannabis law.
Marco Cappato had followed in the footsteps of Cheshire Euro MP ChrisDavies by handing himself in at the town's police station whilebrandishing a small amount of the drug.
But the MEP, from Milan, was held overnight after he allegedly refusedto sign his bail sheet. He was due to appear before Stockport magistrates later today charged with possession of cannabis.
Moments earlier, north west MEP Chris Davies - who was arrested onSaturday - appeared at the magistrates court where he pleaded not guilty to cannabis possession.
Mr Davies, who opted to have his case heard before a jury, is campaigning in support of Colin Davies, owner of a Dutch-style cafe in the town who is in custody on drugs charges.
Chris Davies left the court to a round of applause from fellow protesters.
He said: "I will argue my case on the grounds that the laws should be proportionate.
"I'm very pleased to have the support of my colleague from the European parliament." Mr Cappato said: "The time has come for a trans-national campaign.
"I think this is a necessary, non-violent way of protesting for a change in the law. It helps to make people understand how wrong the law is as it currently stands."
Dutch model for UK drug laws
Nick Paton Walsh, The Observer, Saturday 22 Dec 2001
Ministers have demanded changes to Britain's drug laws that would allow officials to focus on the treatment rather than arrest of drug users.
In a significant change of policy, they have used the Netherlands as a model to demand the prescription of heroin and an end to the prosecution of people who grow cannabis for themselves.
The Home Office told Parliament last week that it had reversed the Government's hardline stance on prosecution of drug users. Minister Bob Ainsworth announced new elements to the drugs strategy, including:
- Focusing on treatment for drug users - known as 'harm minimisation' - rather than their prosecution 'to minimise the harm that drugs do to individuals and their families'. Some campaigners will see the move as effectively decriminalising possession of drugs.
- Advising senior police to focus on dealers, not users, asking them to 'pay the highest regard to the more serious crimes of trafficking and possession with intent to supply'.
- Government plans for new measures to prescribe heroin to addicts.
The Department of Health also told the science and technology select committee that police should not prosecute people who grow cannabis for their own use. This contrasts with the Home Office's recommendations to the Runciman inquiry into drug laws which demanded jail for growers. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
The Home Office had insisted that a 'soft approach' to drug possession was not an option. Experts say the Government should be seen to be tough on drugs and related crime, while addressing the problem of placing increasing numbers of users in jail.
Roger Howard, director of the Government-backed charity DrugScope, said the emphasis on harm reduction was 'a pragmatic and sensible step. The Government has recognised that a crime-led response to drug use has not been effective and that other options must be explored.
'If this includes lesser punishments for cultivation of small amounts of cannabis for personal use, thereby diverting trade away from organized crime, so much the better,' he said.
A Home Office spokesman said the measures were an expansion of plans outlined by the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, last month. Although the focus would be on 'harm minimisation', Dutch cannabis cafes were not being considered. The Home Office 'does not want to encourage people to smoke cannabis', she said.
'We recognise that people will always want to take drugs. We want to make sure they have the information and help to ensure their safety.'
Cannabis warning trial extended
The BBC, Friday 28 Dec 2001
A trial relaxation of cannabis laws in south London is to be extended by up to three months.
The six-month pilot scheme in Lambeth had been due to finish on New Year's Eve but Scotland Yard has decided to continue it while two reports into its success are being compiled.
Under the experiment, people found in possession of small quantities of cannabis are let off with a formal warning rather than being arrested and cautioned.
The idea of the scheme is to cut down demands on police time and to allow officers to focus on catching dealers in Class A drugs such as cocaine, crack and heroin.
In November, Home Office minister Bob Ainsworth praised the Lambeth experiment, saying it had saved hundreds of hours of police time.
Two evaluations of the scheme are being carried out - by the Metropolitan police and by the Police Federation.
If they show favourable results, it could be widened to cover the whole of London.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "No decision on whether to extend the warning scheme across the Met will be made until February or March, and the scheme in Lambeth will continue to be used until then."
The force revealed that officers in Lambeth have continued to stop people suspected of drugs possession.
The latest figures show that they issued 381 warnings to people caught with cannabis between 2 July and 30 November, a Yard spokesman said.
In each case, the drug was confiscated and the user's name and address was recorded.
Last year officers arrested 278 people for cannabis possession in the same period.
The spokesman added: "Without the full evaluation, it would be wrong to read too much into the figures, but they do show that officers in Lambeth are using the scheme.
"The number of warnings is higher than the number of arrests which shows that our officers are not ignoring cannabis possession. The amount of cannabis being seized indicates domestic use, rather than dealing."
Police lock up cannabis Lezley
David Ottewell, News & Star, Carlisle, Friday 04 Jan 2002
A CUMBRIAN multiple sclerosis sufferer who won the legal right to smoke cannabis as medicine has been locked up for four hours after being arrested again for possession of the drug.
Lezley Gibson was carted off by officers who raided an illegal cannabis cafe in Stockport she was visiting with her husband Mark.
The 37-year-old mother-of-one claims she had her shoelaces removed before being locked in a cell until late on Thursday night with no food or water.
Mrs Gibson, of Alston, said yesterday that the trauma of finding herself in a jail cell nearly triggered an MS attack.
"My legs went into spasm," she said. "I could not believe they were being so cruel."
Mrs Gibson and husband Mark has travelled to Stockport to support cannabis campaigner Colin Davies, owner of the Dutch Experience cafe in the town, who was appearing in court on Thursday. They were in the shop when it was raided by police. Mrs Gibson was arrested after admitting having with her what she describes as "medicine."
She was taken to Stockport police station before being questioned by officers and bailed without charge.
"I was totally devastated when they put me in a cell," she said. "I had no food and no water."
Mrs Gibson hit the headlines in September 2000 when a Carlisle jury found her not guilty, on the grounds of medical necessity, of possessing cannabis.
A spokesman for Greater Manchester police confirmed that a 37-year-old woman had been arrested and released on bail without charge until February.
Roo (Andrew Stevens) was arrested that day too, the actual reason the police busted the place. The picture above shows Roo, left, being led off by officer Jackson, a cop with a lot of personal grudges against DE visitors.(NvS)
Why Can't We Have Cannabis Cafes Here?
Kevin Williamson, The Scotsman, Tuesday 08 Jan 2002
Imagine if we lived in a society where drugs weren't just lurking in the background, but one where our entire social life, from celebrations to wakes, from sporting events to eating out, from entertaining at home to oiling the wheels of industry, were all structured and organised around the
consumption of drugs.
And imagine if it wasn't just the consumption of any old drugs, but the consumption of a single drug whose use is so integral to our daily lives that even the dominant religion of that society has adopted it and sanctified it as its official drug of choice.
No prizes for guessing that we are talking about alcohol. It's a drug which lubricates many a good night out but which also drags a trail of unwanted social chaos in its wake. Nor is it to everyone's taste.
Now, imagine a scenario where a large section of that very same society would prefer, at least for a part of their social life, to have an alternative to the use of alcohol. These are likely to be people who believe in democracy and choice, who believe in the toleration of other people's views, but are fed up with the aggression, violence, crime and stupidity associated with alcohol abuse.
What happens then? What happens if these generally law-abiding persons dare to suggest that they would prefer to relax and socialise using an alternative to alcohol, using a drug which causes relatively few problems, relieves stress, is pleasurable without being addictive, and which leaves
the user fit for work the next day?
The stark reality is that those who want to relax with cannabis can either go to the Netherlands to enjoy their pastime - in one of the 900 cannabis coffee shops opened there specially for the purpose - or they can stay at home in alcohol-soaked Scotland and have the full weight of hypocritical laws come down on them until they either give up their use of cannabis (highly unlikely) or are driven underground and into criminality (like the 100,000 cannabis offenders busted every year).
Either way, it's a terrible situation to put people into for committing a crime that has no victims.
The government must be crazy to think that such a state of affairs could go unchallenged indefinitely. And it looks now as if the day of reckoning is drawing near. An incipient United Kingdom cannabis coffee-shop movement has begun to develop, which is prepared to spearhead this new stage in the cannabis legalisation debate.
The UK's first cannabis coffee shop opened in Stockport on 15 September last year, and in spite of three police raids, it is still opening its doors daily, staffed by dedicated activists who are prepared to defy the law and show in practice that the open and regulated sale of cannabis is of
no threat to anyone - except perhaps the profits of the alcohol industry and the black market criminal gangs. And why not? Why should anyone be afraid of the proposed cannabis coffee shops opening up in cities like Dundee and Edinburgh?
In spite of the deliberately misleading attacks on them, the famous Amsterdam coffee shops are identified primarily with an atmosphere of tolerance and good-natured fun from which the whole city reaps benefits.
The coffee shops attract peaceable good-humoured tourists to the city, bringing much-appreciated trade to hoteliers, shopkeepers, museums and many other sectors of the local economy.
It is worth comparing Amsterdam's herbal tourist trade with Edinburgh's new-found status as the Stag and Hen Night capital of Britain - a dubious honour bestowed on the Scottish capital ever since the bars in Dublin starting barring these drunken, vomiting, fighting pests from their
famously hospitable Temple Bar District.
Edinburgh already has a vibrant gay scene around the city's Broughton Street area, it has implemented a harm-reduction policy towards prostitution, the city has fantastic late-night dance clubs and bars, and multi-cultural festivals like the Mela. It also has, of course, internationally recognised theatre, music, film, literary and Hogmanay festivals.
All of these enhance Edinburgh's reputation as an exciting, dynamic place where different cultures and lifestyles are not only accepted but celebrated.
Licensed cannabis coffee-shops would only add to the city's already cosmopolitan reputation, which, in turn, would add to the allure of the city as a potential holiday destination - as Edinburgh's Hogmanay supremo, Pete Irvine, recently acknowledged - and he's a man who spends more time than most listening to what foreign visitors think of Edinburgh.
The benefits to the local citi-zenry would be just as enticing. The sale of cannabis could be taken out of residential areas - where it is often sold alongside harder drugs like heroin. And, for users, it would end years of unjust persecution which wastes police and court time.
Recent studies have indicated that UK tax revenue raised by legalising cannabis could be in the excess of UKP 1.75 billion. This could be used to help treat individuals damaged by the effects of heroin and alcohol abuse for example, or to pay for its prescription to sufferers of illnesses like MS.
Licensing the sale of cannabis is such a pragmatic idea, with so many positive aspects to it, that when it finally happens most people will wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place.
Kevin Williamson is writer and publisher of Rebel Inc!
We're to stay, says the cannabis cafe
Dianne Bourne, Metro News, Manchester, Thursday 10 Jan 2002
The Dutch business partner in the UK's first cannabis cafe has issued the rally cry: "We're here to stay."
Nol Van Schaik, co-owner of the Dutch Experience in Stockport, said if they were forced to move from Hooper Street they would just find somewhere else.
"We are doing something that is not according to the law, but I don't see it as illegal.
In the back room here everyone is smoking joints. The police could come every day and arrest people, but they don't. They seem to come just when it pleases them, or when there is mediainterest in the coffee shop.To me that is neglect of their duty."
Within hours of Metro News going to press last week, with a front pagestory on The Dutch Experience's burgeoning trade, police raided the coffee shop and made three arrests.
They included volunteer bookkeeper Robin Wright, arrested for holding a key to the coffee shop, and having rates, council tax and telephone bills for the shop.
Police also raided the shop in November, four days after Metro News reported how The Dutch Experience was packed with cannabis smokers from across the country.
Cafe co-owner Colin Davies was arrested then and remains on remand in Strangeways on charges of possessing cannabis, possession with intent to supply and permitting premises to be used for smoking cannabis.
But Mr Van Schaik, aged 47, in Stockport to face magistrates today on cannabis possession charges, said: "We're here to stay. Even if they managed to get us out of this building we'd just get another."
Mr Van Schaik, aged 47, owns three coffee shops in Holland.
He added: "This place needs follow-up. We need other places, not just Stockport, to stick their neck out for the cause."
Town 'appalled' by cannabis cafe plan
BBC Online, Monday 14 Jan 2002
A cannabis-style cafe, usually found on the streets of Amsterdam, could be on its way to north east Wales - despite the threat of police action. Local businessman Jeffrey Ditchfield has said he wants to open a shop at an unnamed premises in Rhyl to sell the drug.
Under the plans medicinal users of cannabis would get the drug free and recreational users would be able to buy it from an undisclosed supplier.
But North Wales Police have said the plans would break the law and they would have to act accordingly.
Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom has previously backed calls for further investigations into the possibility of legalising drugs.
However Mr Brunstrom said: "This would be illegal. The law would be enforced as it stands in north Wales."
There is scientific evidence to suggest that cannabis may be useful in treating a wide range of conditions.
And wide-scale trials testing the safety and efficiency of cannabis extracts are currently under way in the UK. Cannabis is an antiemetic, a drug that relieves nausea and allows
patients to eat and live normally.
Extracts also seem to benefit patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, stopping muscle spasms, and reducing tremors.
Mr Ditchfield has said although he does not use the drug himself he has seen the benefits it can produce.
"I have a good friend who suffers from MS, she has been using cannabis
for more than 5 years," he said. "Since using cannabis she has gained control of her bladder and seenreal improvements. I'm prepared to face the consequences...I could face up to 14 years in prison."
The 41-year-old businessman has said that he wants to set up the cafe as a non-profit making organisation.
He has claimed that all profits from the scheme would go to local community projects.
However the plans have not been welcomed by local people.
Rhyl town councillor Diane Hannam said: "The whole town is appalled by these plans.
"We found out about his intentions in a letter to the town council."
The proposed venture is not the first of its kind in the UK, a similar scheme has been set up in Stockport, Greater Manchester. A spokesman for the cafe called The Dutch Experience, said he supported the scheme in Rhyl.
Co-founder Colin Davies was arrested last September after setting up the shop for medicinal users. The Dutch Experience has been raided by Greater Manchester Police on
The spokesman said: "I am from Holland but I lived in Wales for some time and I know there are a lot of cannabis users there.
"I think a cannabis cafe in Rhyl would be fantastic. It would keep people away from the heroin scene that exists there. We would encourage as many cafes as possible to open.
We do not supply cannabis here because we would get raided again, so people come here and they smoke at their own risk."
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