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UK: Cannabis clubs 'could open across country' as founder reveals police 'very supportive' of plan
Thursday 25 Jan 2018
A cannabis club founder wants to expand across the UK after a senior cop visited his club.
Michael Fisher set up Teesside Cannabis Club four years ago and says the world is a "very different place" now.
He was visited by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, who wanted to know how the club was set up and how it works.
Michael - who has campaigned for cannabis to be de-criminalised - believes the Club Exhale model could be replicated across the country.
It allows as many as 180 people to smoke the drug in a safe and controlled space.
He told GazetteLive: "What we’ve had here is a lot of success, in 14 months, where we’ve gone from about 60 to 70 members to around 180 people.
“The conversation around cannabis is changing and it is becoming more acceptable to talk about. We don’t feel the need to hide in the shadows about it.
“Something I would like to see is more clubs, across the country. Ron Hogg (Police and Crime Commissioner in Durham) and I have a very good relationship, and I think it would be logical for one to open there. One in North Wales as well.
“Then in 12 months time, we would have a strong evidence base to take to Government and show them how this model works.”
Michael, 33, claimed cannabis is the “world’s most valuable resource” and believes the Government is missing out on a multi-billion pound industry.
He says tax from potential controlled sales of cannabis at clubs like on Teesside - and others across the UK - could go to the Treasury rather than into the black market, and keep users away from criminal gangs.
Users regularly gather at the Teesside Cannabis Club, and use cannabis in a “consumption room”.
Michael insists there have been no criminal problems linked to the club.
He added: “We do not cause any problems or harm. Using cannabis is technically illegal but we have a relationship with the local force, we have never had any issues with disorder at the club or our events, we do not allow alcohol - and it seems that most problems with anti-social and violent behaviour are linked to alcohol.
We have a great relationship with our local police force, although they are not as outspoken as some about cannabis use, they’ve been very supportive. We are very open with the police.”
Buying and selling drugs at the club - a registered company - is prohibited, but it makes money through the sale of tickets to special events and refreshments, and can make up to £3,000 a night.
Durham PCC Ron Hogg has worked with the club for a number of years, and they have also been visited by TV presenter Jeremy Kyle and rapper Professor Green among others.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones was the latest visitor, as he coincided his trip with the Hartlepool Utd v Wrexham game at Victoria Park.
He has backed the use of cannabis medicinally, and said: “I visited Teeside Cannabis Club because I wanted to see how it was run. The members bring their own cannabis, it isn’t grown on the premises and they’re not dealing or supplying.
“They pay an annual membership fee to be a member of what is a social club where they go to use cannabis.
“There are 150 members paying £35 a year and why not? There are pubs and clubs where people go and drink alcohol so why shouldn’t consenting adults be able to use cannabis recreationally and without causing anyone any harm and the location is such that there is no NIMBYism.”
Cleveland Police said in 2015 it would continue to “operate within the law as it exists” when it comes to dealing with drug crime - despite plans by Durham to stop actively pursuing low-key cannabis users.
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