Source: The Argus, Worthing, UK

Pub Date: Tuesday, 20 January 2004

Subj: Royal pardon sought for cannabis cafe owner






Royal pardon sought for cannabis cafe owner


A cannabis campaigner cleared of supplying the drug in a landmark ruling is to seek a royal pardon for a jailed Worthing cafe owner.

Jeffrey Ditchfield, 43, from Rhyl, was found not guilty of the possession of cannabis with intent to supply after he told a jury at Chester Crown Court he had only supplied it to the sick.

The shop owner used the defence of "necessity", arguing that the supply of the drug to sick people was not a misuse under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

He immediately contacted The Argus to say he would campaign to have Chris Baldwin pardoned - and would even offer to do his sentence for him.

Disabled Baldwin, 53, of Carnegie Close, Worthing, is serving a six-month sentence for various cannabis offences at High Down prison in Sutton, Surrey.

The Friends of Worthing Koffee Shops is to protest against Baldwin's sentence at the Houses of Parliament tomorrow.

Baldwin suffers from spastic paraplegia, uses crutches and says using cannabis helped to combat debilitating leg spasms.

He was jailed on January 9 for allowing cannabis to be used at a property, cannabis possession with intent to supply and possession of cannabis.

He had leased a property in Rowlands Road, Worthing, and opened a Dutch-style coffee shop in 2002.

The cafe, which sold 13 types of marijuana, hash cakes and ready-rolled joints, was first raided by police just a few weeks after it opened.

He then opened another coffee shop in Brougham Road, East Worthing. On January 29, cannabis will become a class C drug, meaning its possession will no longer be an arrestable offence. 

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