Pressure Group Plans To Open Cannabis Cafe in Leicester


Source: Leicester Mercury, UK

Pub Date: Wednesday, 29 May 2002

Subj: Pressure Group Plans To Open Cannabis Cafe

Author: Mary Murtagh


Campaigners for the legalisation of cannabis have announced plans to open a "cannabis cafe" in Leicester where customers would openly smoke the drug.

Pressure group the Legalise Cannabis Alliance has announced plans to open the cafe at an undisclosed location in the city in July.

It would be run by 31-year-old Chris Peabody from Leicestershire who describes himself as a "sympathiser" to the campaign to legalise cannabis

But the Home Office today warned that he would be breaking existing laws and police action could follow.

Mr Peabody said the cafe would run as a members-only club for over-18s. No alcohol or drugs would be on sale but Mr Peabody would permit smoking cannabis on the premises.

Mr Peabody said: "It will basically be a coffee shop with no alcohol or drugs sold. If people chose to smoke cannabis in my shop I am not going to stop them.

"I think the laws on cannabis are unjust. It bothers me greatly that it is against the law but I believe that the law is wrong. I am willing to take that risk.

"The shop will operate on a 'members only' scheme, allowing people to read, relax, play games, like chess or Scrabble, and smoke cannabis in a safe and peaceful environment.

"I, for one, would rather walk home knowing the people around me had been smoking cannabis, rather than rowdy drunks looking for a fight.

"If no-one in Leicester thinks it is a good idea, I will shut the shop."

Inspector Daimon Tilley, in charge of city centre policing said if it opened he would look at the law and act accordingly.

He said: "If something like that were to open in Leicester we would take an interest, look at the legislation and deal with it."

In April, 60 police officers raided an Amsterdam-style coffeeshop in Dorset. Seven people were arrested for drug-related offences and a quantity of substance believed to be cannabis was recovered.

Don Barnard, spokesman for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, said: "The coffee shop will make Leicester safer. Instead of over-18s drinking and smoking cannabis on street corners, causing vandalism and trouble, they will be able to go to a safe and controlled environment."

A Home Office spokeswoman said enforcement of the law was an operational matter for the police, but added that allowing drugs to be smoked on the premises of a "cannabis cafe" was illegal.

The plans come in the wake of a government-commissioned report, by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which recommends that cannabis should be downgraded to a Class C drug.

If ministers accept the advice users could be free to smoke it in public without fear of arrest.