Saturday, 15 March 2014

Gathering pace of public pressure on cannabis

Britain’s first legal cannabis cafe could be in the pipeline after Green party Councillor Ian Driver, a self-confessed ex-recreational drug user, announced plans to open one in Kent.

Modelled on those in Amsterdam, the cafe would allow people inside to smoke marijuana legally, without fear of repercussion.

Driver, a councillor in Thanet, told the BBC he had overwhelming support from people in his district.

He said: ‘It makes eminent sense to have a nice relaxing atmosphere where cannabis users, for recreational or medicinal purposes, can get together and enjoy themselves just as other people go out for a drink.

‘We are going to talk to the police and ask them to be tolerant of the cafe.’

But Kent police said: ‘Our role is to enforce the law which states that cannabis is a Class B controlled drug and possession is an offence which carries a maximum five-year prison term.

‘The use of any premises for any drug-related activity, which would include the use of cannabis, is an offence punishable by imprisonment of up to 14 years with an unlimited fine.

‘Permitting smoking on any business premises is also an offence punishable by a £2,500 fine.’

Police blocked the opening of a similar ‘social’ cafe in Manchester’s Northern Quarter in January.

But last month Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said Britain should explore alternatives to a complete ban on all drugs, and Mr Driver believes this shift in opinion could mean his proposal is more successful.

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