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UK: Dad take his pipe dream to the Home Secretary

Surrey Mirror

Thursday 09 Mar 2006

Dad take his pipe dream to the Home Secretary

IN HIS efforts to have cannabis legalised, Winston Matthews handed it to
the Queen in a bunch of flowers. Having used it a a pain relief, he
believes it has huge health benefits. JOHN GEOGHEGAN reports

Imagine the smell of cannabis wafting legally from a bustling cafe,
across Horley town centre noses. This a dream of one campaigner from the
town, who this week lobbied the Government to legalise the class C drug.

Winston Matthews, a member of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance(LCA), was
joined by other members of the group in meeting Home Secretary Charles
Clarke on Tuesday.

An ambitious town centre regeneration plans are being drawn up, the
49-year-old father of three from Upfield Close said he would like
nothing more than to open a cannabis cafe, in the town.

"Next to Collingwood Batchellor would be nice,"It's a pipe dream."

Mr Matthews met Mr Clarke to discuss the legalisation of cannabis - a
long held ambition of his and the other members of the alliance, which
includes a number of groups with the same aim.

Speaking ahead of the meeting:"To finally get the opportunity to speak
to Mr Clarke about the laws regarding cannabis is fantastic. We've been
corresponding with the Government since we formed seven years ago.

"Although Mr Clarke has twice refused to attend our annual conference,
this at least shows his willingness to listen to us. I just hope he
listens to what we are going to say.

"The LCA represents a huge amount of UK citizens who use for medical or
recreational purposes - it's time these people no longer fear facing the
court for using a substance less harmful than nicotine and alcohol."

This is not Mr Mathews' first engagement with politics, after standing
against Peter Ainsworth at the last general election where he gained 410

Despite claiming to not be a political animal, last year on November 5
he smoked a pipe-like devise for inhaling- outside Parliament to mark
"Bongfire Day".

"I don't think I even got in the papers for that," he said."I've done it
many times to be honest."

As political stunts go, however this next one takes some beating.

"I gave cannabis to the Queen once in 1998 in a bouquet of flowers. I
said:'I'm giving this to you on behalf of the sick people."'

Mr Matthews has been a member of the LCA for about two years and argues
that cannabis provides relief for him after two painful spinal operations.

He was left in constant pain after breaking a vertebra in his back at
the age of 16, after a fall whilst working in a timber yard in Balcombe

A former construction worker and crane driver, Mr Matthews is no longer
able to work because of his injuries.

And he says there could be other social benefits from legalising
cannabis, because the Government could tax it like alcohol and nicotine.

He said:"Why should we give money to gangsters when our own
infrastructure, schools and hospital could do with this money? My
personal view is legalise everything.

Then recreational drugs can be controlled and wouldn't have the
contaminants. What are we procrastinating about?

"We should judge it on harm done to the individuals rather than the
economic benefits - nicotine, alcohol and caffeine are all far more

People attack each other when they binge drink and act like idiots. That
doesn't happen with cannabis."

"I don't take caffeine and I haven't drunk alcohol for four years. I
really don't like it. I've got quite puritanical."

What does he think of the recent studies, given much exposure in the
press, linking cannabis with mental illness?

"There's a possible causal link, but psychosis can be started by
anything," he said.

Originally from Sheffield, Mr Matthews moved to Horley when he was a
teenager because his father, a construction worker, came to work on the
M23 and M25 motorways.

An East Surrey programming student, Mr Matthews has three sons: Paul 27,
Linton, 21 and 19-year-old William.

He said:"My sons initially thought their old man was a bit of eccentric,
but they have come round to my side now."

The LCA's annual conference is being held on March 18 at Norwich
University of East Anglia.




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