Source: Worthing Herald, UK

Pub Date: Friday, 12 April 2002

Subj: Cannabis cafe champion


LEGALISE marijuana campaigner Chris Baldwin has completed a course on how to open a cannabis caf
e .

Mr Baldwin, East Worthing and Shoreham Legalise Cannabis Alliance candidate in the last general election, travelled to Haarlem, Holland, for some unusual training.

In November last year, the campaigner announced plans to open Worthing's first Amsterdam-style coffeeshop, as part of his ongoing protest against laws restricting cannabis's use.

The training scheme covered the political and social implications of cannabis laws, customer service, business skills and quality control. The latter involved checking for microscopic particles on cannabis samples.

Now back in Worthing, Mr Baldwin said: "In Holland, a 'koffie' sign means a place sells actual coffee. If it says 'coffeeshop' all one word it's a cannabis shop.

"The difference is because they are not allowed to advertise. I've been thinking about changing it slightly. To commemorate the Dutch model, we should call cannabis caf
es koffieshops, as a standard for all British shops."

Mr Baldwin, who has been arrested several times for possession of cannabis, now sports a small bag of marijuana around his neck everywhere he goes.

His koffieshop plans follow Home Secretary David Blunkett's proposed relaxation of cannabis laws and determined efforts to keep open a cannabis caf
e in Stockport, Manchester.

"We studied the business side of coffeeshops, we had to do the political stuff and two hours of serving tea and coffee and drinks," said Mr Baldwin.

"The highlight of the week was when I sat behind a counter serving up cannabis.

"We also covered the product itself; evaluation, hash-making and pressing."

Talking about the economic significance of cannabis laws, Mr Baldwin said: "A lot of people are gaining useful employment from cannabis.

"Its trade in Holland is not a 'tuppenny ha'penny' thing.

"We've learned a lot about how to go about this in a political and social manner.

"This is not just about selling cannabis; it's more than that. It's not an entrepreneur money-making scheme. It's about bringing political and social reform this is about the removal of a totally unjust law."

Police inspector Allan Lowe said: "Once again, smoking of cannabis is illegal and we will enforce the law. If a cannabis caf
e was to open, anyone smoking cannabis on the premises would be taken into custody.

"If anyone is permitting drug-taking on their premises, I think I can say we would consider other offences available to us.

"We can't sit back and let it happen, no matter what people's personal views are."