Hundreds Flock to First-Ever British “Cannabis Café”Police Turn a Blind Eye to UK Smoking Establishment

United Kingdom’s first and only Amsterdam-style marijuana coffee shop is drawing approximately 500 patrons per day, reports Britain’s Guardian Unlimited Observer newspaper. The Dutch Experience café, which allows recreational and medicinal marijuana users to openly consume pot on the premises, has steadily grown in popularity since its September 15 opening while simultaneously attracting only minor attention from police.
“The success of the Dutch Experience is further evidence of the sweeping support for marijuana-law reform among the British public, politicians and law enforcement,” said NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre. In October, British Home Secretary David Blunkett announced that marijuana would be reclassified so that its possession would no longer be an arrestable offense. Britain’s Police Foundation endorsed the enactment of similar Parliamentary changes last year.
Despite a pair of initial police raids, the Dutch Experience has operated uninterrupted since September 22. Co-owner Colin Davies, a patient and long-time medical marijuana activist, says that the club intends to raise funds from recreational users to provide medical pot to patients free of charge.
Stockport city council leader Fred Ridley told the Observer that they have had no public complaints about the café, which operates from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. In addition, local MEP (Member of European Parliament) Chris Davies (Liberal-Democrat Party) actively supports the venture. “I applaud it,” said Davies, who has visited the club twice. “It seems [to be] an excellent way of meeting people’s desire to try things other than alcohol without leading them on to harder things.”
Additional cafés may soon be opening in the cities of Worthing, Taunton and Brixton, the newspaper said.
A similar café, the HC Marijuana Users Teahouse of Canada, recently opened without incident in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Teahouse allows patients licensed by Health Canada to consume pot openly, but does not sell or distribute cannabis on the premises. The Canadian government legalized the use and possession of medical marijuana for qualified patients this summer.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director, at (202) 483-8751. Further information on the Dutch Experience is available online at: http://www.dutchexperience.org.