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UK: The Chillin' Rooms former owner, Gary Youds, has opened up about what the business could offer to Liverpool

Olivia Tobin

Liverpool Echo

Sunday 06 Sep 2020

The former owner of an Amsterdam-style cannabis cafe said he wants to reopen in Liverpool despite being spared jail earlier this year.

Gary Youds used to run the Chillin' Rooms on Holt Road, in Kensington, which was raided by police in March 2019.

The dad-of-two previously told the ECHO his illegal operation was the "light at the end of the tunnel" for customers when it was open.

Mr Youds was once described by a judge as a "martyr" for the legislation of cannabis and has served time in jail after he was caught running the illegal business in 2017.

He was also more recently charged with possessing cannabis resin after 202 plants were found in the wardrobe in his home by police in 2019.

He was spared jail and handed a community order at his sentencing at Liverpool Crown Court in February this year.

Despite this, Mr Youds said he is passionate about reopening a cannabis-style cafe again in Liverpool, and even outlined his business plan.

Mr Youds' Amsterdam-style cafe was invite-only with customers gaining entry after being referred by a friend.

The word-of-mouth cafe didn't have any signage on the busy road, with only those who knew about it allowed to visit.

In a previous interview with the ECHO, he said: "It was the ultimate chilling room. It was free from crime, it was unique and there was nowhere like it, it was like one in a million."

Mr Youds wants to see a business like this return in Liverpool, possibly in the city centre on Dublin Street.

In an interview with the ECHO this week, he said: "We're in unprecedented times and it's the the right thing to do. We're all looking out for each other and the community. We want to end poverty and put [drug] crime out of business.

"Let's get a joint effort and roll it out. Let's get people back to work, pay all the taxes and do things right.

"There's a lot of passion and hard work behind the scenes to bring this fruition. I want them [the council] to look at my model."

Mr Youds said he has a business plan ready and claimed he's been trying to negotiate with 'high profile figures' in Liverpool by writing several letters.

His dream for a cannabis cafe includes group therapy through the day, with the possibility of live music in the evening.

He said: "We want to have artisan crafts as well. We've all been stuck in our houses and we want to get people together again.

"We don't want to leave anyone behind. The poorest person is going to contribute and be a tax payer. We want them out the house and part of our new cathedral of peace.

"I'd have live music [in the night time]. Liverpool's a creative city with all the live music - we're going to be the new Cavern Club."

Mr Youds also dreams of hiring ex-prisoners to employ them locally in the community.

He said: "I'm going to employ all ex-prisoners, hopefully. We're going to get everyone back to work.

"It's the new age, this is the answer and this is the right thing to do. "

Mr Youds claimed a cannabis cafe would lower local crime levels, adding: "We want to put crime out of business."

Under UK law, cannabis remains illegal to possess, grow, distribute, sell or grow.

Being caught with cannabis comes with a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

While being convicted of producing and supplying the Class B drug carries up to 14 years behind bars, an unlimited fine, or both.

However, there has been a growing movement and discussions in Parliament to relax the laws around the Class B drug.

Five years ago, a police force in the North East sparked controversy after announcing it would no longer actively pursue cannabis smokers and small-scale growers.

Speaking at the time, Durham Police said it would prioritise its resources against more serious crime.




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