More MS news articles for Dec 2001

Police slam MEP dope protester

Saturday December 15, 06:24 PM

LONDON (Reuters) - Police have issued a stern ticking off to a member of the European Parliament who had himself arrested for cannabis possession in protest at the treatment of a cannabis cafe owner in his constituency.

Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, who represents northwest England, planned the event to show support for a constituent, Colin Davies (no relation), who was arrested in November at an Amsterdam-style cannabis cafe he ran in Stockport.

Police charged the MEP with possession of cannabis and he is due to appear in court on Thursday, a Liberal Democrat spokesman told Reuters.

"I am glad to have added myself to the dozens of people who have already been arrested in protests aimed to demonstrate their support for Colin Davies," the MEP, who said he's never used illegal drugs, said in a statement.

But the Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Med Hughes, accused the MEP of wasting police time.

"I personally regret that a MEP wastes the time of hard working police officers," Hughes said in a statement.

"It would be better if MEPs occupied themselves in the law making institutions for which they are paid, rather than distracting officers from their important work," he said.

"I suggest politicians who have the privilege of such access to those institutions focus on changing such laws if that is their aim." Hughes said the Greater Manchester force would continue to enforce laws on cannabis locally.

Chris Davies expressed support for the stand taken by another senior police officer, the Chief Constable of North Wales, Richard Brunstrom, who told a meeting on Friday that the only way to win the war against drugs might be to legalise them all.

"The legal priorities are wrong. Last year nearly 800 young people in Britain died of alcohol-induced cirrhosis of the liver. Not one person died from the health effects of cannabis, yet some 50,000 people were arrested for possession of the drug," Davies said.

"It is not surprising that many police officers admit that they have better things to do with their time than arrest people for a supposed offence which causes no harm to anyone else."

Brunstrom said a Royal commission should be set up to consider how to tackle the issue of drugs, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) reported.

Colin Davies' cafe sold cannabis for recreational purposes but gave the illegal drug free to those wanting it for medical purposes, his brother Mark said.

Colin Davies smoked cannabis himself to alleviate pain resulting from a car accident six years ago.

"The people who will miss out most are those in the Multiple Sclerosis Cannabis Association," Mark Davies said.

Many people say the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and other diseases are alleviated by cannabis. British commentators have called in recent months for the drug to be legalised and the government has promised to at least relax laws against it.

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