By Joe Mellor, In house Reporter
Exclusive interview with Mr Cannabis on his new smoked out coffee shop dream.
A man known as “Mr Cannabis” has failed in another a new attempt to open a cannabis café in the UK. He rose to fame in 2000 when he gave the Queen a bouquet of flowers which was actually cannabis. Her royal high-ness declined to press charges.
Colin Davies, 56, then opened the Dutch Experience in Stockport, the UK’s first ever cannabis cafe, amid a blaze of publicity in September, 2001. Police raided it within ten minutes of its launch.
In court prosecutors said the cafe was in fact an elaborate smokescreen for the trafficking of drugs from Holland. The cafe, however, continued to operate for about 14 months.
Colin says: “They had 18 officers assigned to the cafe. Imagine the cost of policing that – they were wasting their money. This time around I want it to be different.”
This time Colin had planned to open a café in central Manchester in the city’s trendy Northern Quarter. Once jailed for drug trafficking, Colin announced his intention to open The New Way Café on Saturday February 1st 2014.
He says: “A site was found and the landlord was fine with what we were planning to do, but GMP (Greater Manchester Police) refused the application anyway.
“It wasn’t going to be a place for people to smoke or sell drugs. It was supposed to be a place to educate people about cannabis use and a meeting place for like-minded individuals.”
A protest outside the proposed site on the original launch date was attended by a small band of peaceful protesters. Under the watchful eye of the city’s police force nobody was arrested and nobody lit up.
The father-of-two first came to the attention of the police in 1998 when he was charged with unlawful possession of drugs but he was acquitted after claiming he grew marijuana in his flat in Stockport to relieve back pain. The former joiner fractured three bones in his spine following a fall in 1995.
He went on to become a central figure in a national campaign to legalise dope and set up the Medical Marijuana Co-operative which involved the sale of cannabis to members on a not-for-profit basis. The New Way café was his latest attempt to push towards decriminalisation of Marijuana
He says: “The pay-for, members-only club was going to be a meeting point for people who want to smoke cannabis, but smoking it would be banned on the site. We planned to serve tea and coffee and no alcohol. We would have employed up to 20 staff.
“I will continue in my quest to prove that people shouldn’t be stigmatised just because they smoke weed. 99 per cent of my network only break the law when they take the drug, otherwise they are regular law abiding citizens.
“If you take the government estimates that ten per cent of the population consume cannabis and they consume one gram a day at the cost £10 per gram, by my estimation it rakes in £420 million a week, which could be legal taxable profits.”
Possession and supply of cannabis remains against the law despite long-standing campaigns to legalise the drug. It was reclassified as a Class B drug in 2009 after it had been downgraded for the previous five years to Class C. Possession of it carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
At the very worse, Colin wants to dilute the stigma associated with cannabis. The issue has remained largely unspoken about for several years, but as some American states and South American countries decriminalise the drug, the discussion may finally be back on the table.
So, fancy a cuppa?