Cafe set to serve up dope for the Festival
A CONTROVERSIAL cannabis cafe could open in Edinburgh in time for this year’s Festival, it was claimed today.
City publisher Kevin Williamson, one of the leading figures behind the venture, wants to launch it in time for the event.
He lifted the lid for the first time on the cafe, which he says will be members only and will only be open to people aged 18 and over.
The aim is to have up to eight different types of cannabis openly on sale from a special booth, similar to the ones in cafes which operate in Holland.
But a website for the "cannabis coffee shop", on which Mr Williamson says he is fully aware he faces five years in prison for selling the drug, fails to identify where it will be opening up.
It is understood possible venues for the cannabis cafe include Broughton Street, Victoria Street and Cockburn Street.
Mr Williamson says the cannabis cafe will not open until the reclassification of cannabis from a class B to class C drug.
He believes the move, which he "expects" to be introduced by the Westminster government within months, will mean cannabis smokers will no longer be liable for arrest.
He said: "We’re hoping to have it open before August to do our patriotic bit to help swell the tourist numbers coming over to Edinburgh for their holidays, but if it ends up opening a month or two later then no worries. It’ll open when the time is right.
"It’s going to be in the heart of Edinburgh, in the city centre, but the location will only be announced nearer the time.
"We’re aiming to make the coffee shop an interesting place to visit, with good sounds, an art gallery space, a radical bookstore and other features that’ll enhance Edinburgh’s social scene."
Mr Williamson and other, anonymous, backers of the venture have come under fire for planning to use teenagers to rally support for the cannabis cafe.
Mr Williamson plans to use the youth wing of the Scottish Socialist Party, for whom he acts as drugs spokesman, to launch a "public consultation exercise".
He said: "It’ll be especially aimed at parents who may be worried about their kids going to the shop or getting involved in drug use."
Last month the former head of the drugs squad at Lothian and Borders Police called for the possession of small amounts of cannabis to be legalised.
Superintendent Jinty Kerr, who is due to retire in June, said allowing people to have cannabis for personal use would allow the police to target drug dealers.
However, a spokesman for the force, which has pledged to maintain its tough stance on drugs, said: "As the law stands, our officers would arrest anyone possessing or dealing cannabis."
A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "The deputy first minister has said re-classification does not mean decriminalisation. Cannabis will remain a controlled drug with criminal sanctions."
Alistair Ramsay, director of the Scotland Against Drugs campaign, said: "There are two fundamental flaws with what he is saying.
"Firstly, it is criminals who supply the cannabis cafes in Holland. Secondly, it is by no means certain that there will be re-classification of cannabis and if there is it is absolute nonsense to say people will no longer be liable for arrest for possessing it."
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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