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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 13:15 GMT
Drugs law 'ridiculous', says arrested MEP
The MEPs are supporting The Dutch Experience cafe
Two Euro MPs have appeared in court charged with possessing cannabis.

Chris Davies of High Kinders, Greenfield, Oldham, and Marco Cappato, of Vendano in Milan, were arrested after taking part in two protests campaigning for a change in the UK's law on cannabis.

Both men denied the charges during the five-minute hearing at Stockport Magistrates Court.

Liberal Democrat Mr Davies and his Italian Radical Party counterpart were committed for trial at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court and released on unconditional bail.

'Outrageous' law

The Liberal Democrat was arrested before Christmas after he led a march to Stockport police station allegedly carrying a tiny piece of cannabis stuck to the back of a postage stamp.

Italian MEP Marco Cappato was arrested days later after turning up at Stockport magistrates' court to support Mr Davies, allegedly also clutching a small amount of the drug.

Both men had joined protesters campaigning for The Dutch Experience - Britain's first Amsterdam-style cannabis cafe - which opened in Stockport last year.

Liberal Democrat Euro MP Chris Davies
The MEP was arrested at Stockport police station

Colin Davies, owner of the Dutch Experience, supports prescribing cannabis as a medicine.

He was remanded in custody in the hospital wing of Strangeways Prison last November on drugs charges.

Outside court, Chris Davies, the Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West of England, said he hoped his trial, beginning on 15 March, would bring about a public debate on cannabis laws.

Mr Davies said: "I think our drug laws have been ridiculous. Our laws and especially the law on cannabis are outrageous."

At the time of their arrests, Greater Manchester Police criticised both Euro politicians for wasting officers' time.

On Monday police refused to arrest Radical leader Marco Pannello after he presented himself at Stockport police station clutching a small amount of the Class B drug.

Chris Davies added: "Greater Manchester Police yesterday revealed a change in policy when they refused to arrest another MEP making a similar protest.

"They said it was a waste of time and I agree. This is a crime with no victims."

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