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UK: Cannabis cafe owner fined UKP500

BBC Online

Wednesday 01 Sep 2004


The man behind Scotland's first cannabis cafe has pleaded guilty to a
charge of permitting the drug to be smoked on his premises.

Paul Stewart, 37, opened the Purple Haze cafe in Edinburgh in January when
cannabis was reclassified from a class B to a class C drug.

The cafe, in the Leith area, opened in a blaze of publicity and was raided
by police several hours later.

Stewart was fined UKP500 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Licensed cafes

The court heard that during the day the cafe had operated as a normal
take-away serving hot and cold food.

However, Stewart had declared his intention through the Internet and other
media of operating it as a cannabis cafe between the hours of 1600 and 2000.
He said that he wanted to encourage the setting up in Scotland of licensed
cafes similar to those operating in Holland.

Defence agent, Matthew Berlow, said Stewart accepted he had broken the law,
but he had been trying to highlight the hypocrisy of the drug laws.

He said that Stewart was now "a broken man".

He had had to lay off staff and was trying to sell the cafe.

Mr Berlow said his client had been carried away by the euphoria of the
publicity at the time and the support of politicians.

Sheriff Noel McPartlin told him: "It was a deliberate act on your part. I
am told you were encouraged by others, but I think you are old enough to
make up your own mind.

"You are entitled to your point of view whether it is a good law or a bad
law, but you are not entitled to campaign against it by breaking the law




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