Source: The Argus, UK

Pub Date: Thursday 19 December 2002

Subj: UK: High Noon For cannabis cafe

Author: Paul Holden





A controversial Amsterdam-style cafe is set to close by Christmas Day following a series of police raids and court action.

Chris Baldwin, who runs Bongchuffa and the Quantum Leaf in Worthing, has been served with an eviction notice by the letting agents and must be out by December 25.

Last night he said: "There's going to be a lot of people in this town bitterly disappointed if this project fails."

Bongchuffa, in Rowlands Road, where the Quantum Leaf Cafe is also based, has twice been raided by police who arrested 14 people, including Mr Baldwin.

There was a demonstration outside Worthing Magistrates Court by pro-cannabis campaigners on Monday, when one of those arrested appeared on a drugs-related charge.

Chief Inspector Russ Whitfield, district commander of Worthing police, said: "I had an informal meeting with Chris Baldwin yesterday to discuss the future of the cafe.

"He stated that because of police action and the letting agents, the cafe would be closing down. I am pleased he has acted reasonably and therefore prevented future anguish to himself and the other residents of Worthing."

The eviction notice was served by Spratt's estate agents, bringing six months of trading to an end.

Mr Baldwin said: "They have told us to be out by Christmas Day but that is debatable. I am disappointed, of course, but they haven't won yet.

"For all those against the cafe, there is an awful lot of people for it. My resolve is still strong but I cannot say what is going to happen next."

"I have had no problems with the police. They have behaved impeccably towards me. I have not been very well lately with the work and the stress and everything else."

He was unable to say what would happen to a similar shop, Buddy's Hydroponics cafe in Brougham Road, Worthing, which has also been raided.

After the raids, Mr Baldwin said: "They will have to lock me up to stop me. We are here to stay. If they move us on, we will find another and start again. The camaraderie here is beautiful and so strong."

He said the shop was used by many disabled people who smoked cannabis to relieve pain.

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