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UK: Defiant cannabis cafe man shrugs off threat of raids

Mike Hornby

Liverpool Daily Post

Tuesday 19 Apr 2005


THE owner of Merseyside's first cannabis cafe is vowing to stay open
despite being raided twice by police.

Former property developer Gary Youds spent ukp60,000 to launch the
Amsterdam-style Tea Cafe in Holt Road, Kensington, Liverpool six weeks ago
but didn't get city council permission.

He was raided soon afterwards and was given a conditional discharge after
he admitted allowing the premises to be used for the taking of a controlled

Several customers were cautioned for possession of cannabis during the raids.

At the weekend he was arrested again and bailed pending further inquiries.
But, apart from the police action, he has been served with a 28-day closure
notice by the council.

However, he insists he will carry on trading at the cafe which has gained
400 members, all of whom must prove they are aged over 18 and must leave
the premises by 10pm.

"We are doing nothing wrong, all we want is tolerance," he said.. I am
happy to work with the police and council, allowing them inside for
inspections at any time."

He said the cafe was only used for taking the drug and that he operated a
"zero tolerance" policy on Class A drugs and alcohol.

"I have invested six years of planning and a lot of money into this venture
and I am proud of what we have achieved," he said..

"It's clean, safe and unthreatening, inside this cafe there is no violence
or abuse of any sort. We are not here to antagonise the authorities we just
want to be left alone.

"When we were raided the police were shocked - they said it was the most
peaceful raid they have ever carried out."

Merseyside police say Mr Youds is supplying cannabis and they are working
with the city council to have the cafe closed down.

They cannot obtain an Asbo against him because there have been no
complaints from residents.

Inspector Kevin Wellens said: "We are committed to enforcing the law and
are liaising with the local authority.

"It's not that residents have reported problems associated with the running
of the premises, more that they are concerned that something like this is

Nearby resident Kevin Miller, 45, who lives on Kensington, said: "I don't
care what goes on behind
closed doors so long as there's no disturbance for neighbours."

Jean McGenity, of Botanic Road, said: "Kensington has become terrible
thanks to the drugs. We need less of it, not more."

A council spokesman said the closure notice was issued because Mr Youds
does not have planning permission for the building.

He added: "The use of cannabis is a matter for the police."




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