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Monday, 11 November, 2002, 09:37 GMT
'I'll still open my cannabis cafe'
Cannabis joint
Smoking cannabis is a dangerous as smoking tobacco
A man who plans to set up a cannabis cafe says a report warning of the serious health dangers of the drug will not stop him pressing ahead with his plans.

Kevin Williamson, of the counter-culture activist group and publishing house Rebel Inc, plans to challenge the existing law by opening a cafe in Edinburgh where cannabis usage will be tolerated - and where eventually the drug will be put on sale.


If cannabis is proven to be slightly harmful then it makes sense to take it out of the black market

Kevin Williamson
He said a British Lung Foundation report suggesting that cannabis is every bit as harmful as smoking tobacco does nothing to make him think twice.

"This makes me more determined to actually go through with this," he told the BBC.

"None of the health reports on cannabis affect any of the primary reasons for taking cannabis out of the black market, namely to separate its sale from hard drugs, to take it out of residential areas, to take it out of the hands of the criminal black market and to end the criminalisation of users."

Dishonesty

Mr Williamson said there was a danger that the BLF report could be dishonestly hijacked by people who were opposed to decriminalisation of cannabis.

"If cannabis is proven to be slightly harmful then it makes sense to take it out of the black market."

Although the law on cannabis has recently been softened, it is still illegal both to possess and sell the drug.

Mr Williamson said: "We intend to challenge that law by showing that you can actually put cannabis on sale or have it consumed in a place where you can keep hard drugs out, where you can keep under age people out of the premises, and where it does not lead to any social disorder."

Health risks

Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said 150,000 a year died from lung disease.

"We are not trying to say smoke or don't smoke cannabis.

"We are saying if you do, understand the risks that are invovled in doing so, and don't have the same situation which we had with tobacco, which was years of denial about the problems."

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