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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Drugs activist uses 'police' website
Cannabis smoker
The cafe would offer cannabis free for medicinal users
A campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis has bought a website bearing the name of North Wales Police to advertise his plans for a cannabis cafe.

Businessman Jeff Ditchfield, 42, from Henllan in Denbighshire, said he bought the domain name for 12.99 to try to open a "sensible debate with police".

But police chiefs have warned him not to use the site for illegal means and said they will act if the law is broken.

Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom
Mr Brunstrom: The law would be enforced

The row over the site emerged as the force's Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom is due to address a Police Federation conference on the issue of legalising drugs.

Earlier this year when the plans for the cafe first came to light Mr Brunstrom insisted that the cafe would be illegal and his officers would act accordingly.

But Mr Ditchfield said he plans to open the cafe - which he would call Beggars Belief - in Rhyl next month despite fierce opposition from residents.

"We have had an offer on a premises accepted and we are going ahead with plans," he said.

Undisclosed supplier

"The site already has planning permission to be used for food and drink and we are hoping to open the cafe next month."

The cafe in Rhyl would be similar to those common in Amsterdam where drugs laws are more liberal and would be free to medicinal users and serve recreational users from an undisclosed supplier.

As regards his website, Mr Ditchfield said he had no intention of embarrassing the force and would not continue using the new site to advertise the cafe.

"I did not intend the name to link to the Beggars Belief site and I will be asking my web people to disable the link as soon as possible," he is reported to have said.

I did not intend the name to link to the Beggars Belief site and I will be asking my web people to disable the link as soon as possible

Jeff Ditchfield

"From the very beginning of this project I have written to various MPs, AMs, councillors and the police to explain what I am doing," he said.

"I wanted to work with North Wales Police and explain, for example, that the shop is only open to the over-18s and there will be no hard drugs or alcohol allowed."

He said he would be happy to give the domain name to the north Wales force, and hoped a meeting would allow them to discuss "other matters".

But the force said it would be impossible to spend hundreds of pounds of public money buying up all the variations on domain names available.

"If Mr Ditchfield bought the site then that is his prerogative," said Deputy Chief Constable Bill Brereton.

"If he misrepresents himself so that he appears either to impersonate a police officer or represent the views of the police force then this clearly is something he must not do."

See also:

13 Jan 02 | UK
Cannabis: the facts
21 Mar 00 | Medical notes
Cannabis: The debate
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