May 3rd, 2002
SCOTLAND'S first cannabis cafe could be open for business next month, one of the owners of the controversial enterprise told The Herald last night.
Kevin Williamson, founder of the Rebel Inc publishing firm, posted details of the new Rebel Inc Coffeeshop planned for "the heart of Edinburgh" on his website yesterday afternoon.
On it, he describes how the members-only establishment will eventually sell cannabis direct to customers as a means of cutting out the adulterated supplies in the city's deprived areas.
The cafe's "menu" will offer at least eight different types of cannabis with discounts being given to those with medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis or glaucoma.
Mr Williamson, who is drugs spokesman for the Scottish Socialist Party, said he had the support of a number of MSPs and MPs for his new venture.
He said an announcement on the reclassification of cannabis from a class B to a Class C drug is expected next month. Reclassification would mean that, although suppliers would face a prison sentence, those in possession of the drug would not be arrested. He said: "When the announcement is made we will open once we have decorated our new premises. Obviously I am aware that there is the threat of a five-year prison sentence for selling Class C drugs.
"I wouldn't be happy to end up in prison, but the main issue here is tackling the overlapping problems between heroin and cannabis.
"It is very different to be a young professional buying cannabis from a decent source than being someone in a housing scheme coming into contact with criminals who are likely to be mixing it with all sorts of rubbish."
Mr Williamson said he would not be "springing" the cafe on Edinburgh but intended organising a number of events to inform the public about the cafe's aims.
A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders police said last night it had no communication from Mr Williamson. "But as the law stands our officers would arrest anyone possessing or dealing cannabis," she said.
A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said last night: "The deputy first minister has said re-classification does not mean decriminalisation. Cannabis will remain a controlled drug with criminal sanctions."