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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 17:29 GMT
Town 'appalled' by cannabis cafe plan
Cannabis smoker
Cannabis would be free for medicinal users
A cannabis-style cafe, usually found on the streets of Amsterdam, could be on its way to north east Wales - despite the threat of police action.

Local businessman Jeffrey Ditchfield has said he wants to open a shop at an unnamed premises in Rhyl to sell the drug.


I'm prepared to face the consequences...I could face up to 14 years in prison

Jeffrey Ditchfield, businessman

Under the plans medicinal users of cannabis would get the drug free and recreational users would be able to buy it from an undisclosed supplier.

But North Wales Police have said the plans would break the law and they would have to act accordingly.

Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom has previously backed calls for further investigations into the possibility of legalising drugs.

However Mr Brunstrom said: "This would be illegal."

"The law would be enforced as it stands in north Wales."

Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom
Chief Constable: The law will be enforced

There is scientific evidence to suggest that cannabis may be useful in treating a wide range of conditions.

And wide-scale trials testing the safety and efficiency of cannabis extracts are currently under way in the UK.

Cannabis is an antiemetic, a drug that relieves nausea and allows patients to eat and live normally.

Extracts also seem to benefit patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, stopping muscle spasms, and reducing tremors.

Mr Ditchfield has said although he does not use the drug himself he has seen the benefits it can produce.

"I have a good friend who suffers from MS, she has been using cannabis for more than 5 years," he said.


The whole town is appalled by these plans

Diane Hannam, town councillor

"Since using cannabis she has gained control of her bladder and seen real improvements."

"I'm prepared to face the consequences...I could face up to 14 years in prison."

The 41-year-old businessman has said that he wants to set up the cafe as a non-profit making organisation.

He has claimed that all profits from the scheme would go to local community projects.

However the plans have not been welcomed by local people.

Rhyl town councillor Diane Hannam said: "The whole town is appalled by these plans.

"We found out about his intentions in a letter to the town council."

Support

The proposed venture is not the first of its kind in the UK, a similar scheme has been set up in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

A spokesman for the cafe called The Dutch Experience, said he supported the scheme in Rhyl.

Co-founder Colin Davies was arrested last September after setting up the shop for medicinal users.

The Dutch Experience has been raided by Greater Manchester Police on four occasions.

The spokesman said: "I am from Holland but I lived in Wales for some time and I know there are a lot of cannabis users there.

"I think a cannabis cafe in Rhyl would be fantastic. It would keep people away from the heroin scene that exists there.

"We would encourage as many cafes as possible to open.

"We do not supply cannabis here because we would get raided again, so people come here and they smoke at their own risk."


More news from north east Wales
See also:

13 Jan 02 | UK
Cannabis: the facts
24 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Cannabis laws to be relaxed
07 Jan 02 | Health
Cannabis 'stunts baby growth'
29 Dec 01 | England
Cannabis warning trial extended
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