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UK: Cannabis cafe owner aims for Inverness

John Ross

The Scotsman

Friday 05 Nov 2004

POLICE and politicians yesterday attacked plans by the owner of Scotland's
first cannabis cafe to open premises in Inverness to sell legal drugs,
including hallucinogenics.

Paul Stewart, who runs the Purple Haze cafe in Leith, wants to open a shop
in the Highland capital offering forms of herbal cannabis, hemp products
and magic mushrooms as well as adult films.

In September Mr Stewart, 37, was fined UKP500 after he admitted permitting
cannabis resin to be smoked in his cafe in Portland Place, Edinburgh.

The Crown Office later decided not to proceed with another case against him
for selling magic mushrooms.

Mr Stewart told The Scotsman yesterday his shop in Inverness would be for
over-18s only and he would need a licence only if the shop was
predominantly selling sex goods, which was not his intention.

He said there was a wide range of legally available drugs. "There is a
legal form of herbal cannabis on the market so I will be selling it," Mr
Stewart said. "There are a lot of people who want to use cannabis for
health reasons. I will supply them with the closest thing they can get to
cannabis in a legal form.

"I will also sell hemp-based products like hemp seed oil. There are masses
of uses for cannabis other than getting high. There are ten different types
of magic mushrooms, there are hallucinogenic cacti, opium-type powders,
alternatives to grass [marijuana], all legal. And there are legal forms of
ecstasy and speed."

He said he or his friends try all the products to test their effects before
selling them, adding: "I'm responsible. I don't sell them to under-18s, to
drunk people or anyone under the influence of any kind of drugs. I give out
health advice with the products. I don't hand out my products willy-nilly
on street corners to children."

He said: "I don't like hallucinogenic drugs myself, but there are lots of
people who do and it's about supply and demand."

Mr Stewart said he was unconcerned about the reaction to his plans: "It's
2004 we live in, not 1904. We have moved on. I don't want to antagonise
anyone, and if people want to contact me I'll explain my drugs policy. I
don't believe what I'm doing is morally wrong."

Fergus Ewing, the SNP MSP for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, said: "I
would very much oppose this person setting up shop in Inverness. I will
clarify with the chief constable whether there are sufficient powers to
prevent this happening. The proposals to sell mind-bending substances will
be opposed by the vast majority of the citizens of Inverness."

David Stewart, the local Labour MP, said: "There are health issues, no
matter the legality of what is being sold. I'm sure this will raise
concerns amongst youth workers, community groups and churches across the

Chief Inspector Ralph Noble of Northern Constabulary said: "We would
discourage the abuse of any substance whether it's legal or illegal,
particularly when it is supposed to cause uncontrollable delusions.

"I can guarantee we will be keeping a very close eye on how these products
are being sold."




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