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UK: The Leith Police Dismisseth... Oh, That's Heavy Man

The Mirror

Friday 30 Jan 2004


THREE people were arrested for drugs offences yesterday on the opening day
of the first cannabis cafe in Scotland.

The arrest of two men and a woman for possession of cannabis at the Purple
Haze Cafe coincided with the reclassification of the drug, from Class B to
Class C.

It is understood that Paul Stewart, 37, the owner of the cafe in Leith,
Edinburgh, was one of the three arrested.

The cafe allows cannabis users to come in off the streets and use the drug.
It does not sell cannabis. Pro-cannabis campaigners - backed by the
Scottish Cannabis Coffeeshop Movement - want to highlight what they say is
a confusing legal situation surrounding the possession and use of the drug.

Police stood outside the cafe entrance as supporters filtered in to
register as members.

Before his arrest Mr Stewart said: "In the rest of the UK, the presumption
of arrest has been taken away, but that presumption still remains in
Scotland." Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan registered at the cafe, calling it
a "safe controlled environment for those who wish to consume cannabis".

In London, Met Deputy Commissioner Ian Blair backed the reclassification.
Policing of possession of small amounts of cannabis had become
"increasingly pointless".

He added: "It was grossly inefficient for officers to spend hours
processing individuals for possession of cannabis in amounts about which
neither the courts nor therefore the CPS (prosecutors) were prepared to
take any action."




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