Source: The Argus, Worthing, UK

Pub Date: Saturday, 10 January 2004

Subj: Pro-Cannabis Trader Jailed



Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance

Eddie Ellison

Comments: The judge also described Chris Baldwin as an honest and sincere man with genuine beliefs and medical needs. He also commended him for the way in which the cafe was run. He also accepted the veracity of the statements made in mitigation: that all three were in genuine medical need and had genuine pain relief from cannabis and that their motive were not profit but political campaigning. The 6-month sentences were all to run concurrent with the serving of a 6 month sentence reduced from a previous 18-month suspended sentence and Chris Baldwin was told he would not serve more than 3 months. DESPITE Chris's incarceration this is a tremendous step forward in reduction in sentencing for medical and recreational supply.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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