May 1, 2004
Leamington Spa Today
It looks like an ordinary packet of seeds available in any garden centre.
But the white envelope contains White Widow cannabis seeds which are perfectly legal unless they are germinated and grown into plants. And anyone can buy them, along with magic mushrooms, in Planet Bong in Leamington's Regent Street.
A Conservative MP Peter Luff this week called for the loophole in the law which allows this to be closed but shop owner David Clayton-Wright said he was not doing any harm.
Mr Clayton-Wright said: "If the law changed tomorrow, we would stop selling them. But while it's legal we don't see any reason why we should stop. We recognise Leamington is a historic town and the town planners and local constabulary can come and talk to us at any time about our products."
Mr Clayton-Wright said he sells the seeds and mushrooms as novelty items and checks customers are not going to use them to produce drugs, know the law and are over 18-years-old.
Planet Bong originally opened in Clemens Street three years ago and as well as selling Fair Trade clothes and furniture, the shop has an entire room devoted to bongs, devices used for smoking cannabis, which are kept in glass cases normally found in jewellery stores.
Mr Clayton-Wright said he only sells products which are legal, morally and ethically acceptable and fit his pricing and quality criteria. He believes cannabis, which was recently downgraded from a Class B drug to Class C, should be legalised.
Mr Clayton-Wright said: "There was a time when we could have sold the
date-rape drug but we never did because while it was legal to sell, we
didn't think it was morally and ethically right. According to statistics
35,000 people a year die of alcohol-related deaths and 120,000 people die
from cigarette smoking related deaths.
"Only one person is reported to have died of cannabis but that's not absolutely certain because he choked on his own vomit, four people died from ecstasy last year and no-one died from mushroom-based LSD.
"People can buy alcohol and cigarettes freely in shops, we wouldn't dream of telling people not to. And the general public when asked mostly says cannabis isn't a problem, let people have it for pain and Multiple Sclerosis. Cannabis is an innocent herb. There shouldn't be a law at all."
Warwick and Leamington prospective parliamentary candidates were split over whether Planet Bong should be allowed to sell the seeds.
Conservative Chris White said: "The only possible reason for buying cannabis seeds it to grow cannabis and I don't think there's any valid reason for that. I've no doubt the shop owner is telling the truth when he says he checks before selling the seeds but he's putting temptation in front of people."
Liberal Democrat Linda Forbes said: "I think if it's causing a social
problem police would be aware of that and some action would be taken. There
are lots of things one can use to law break such as cars and alcohol but
it doesn't mean you would. There are other social ills that need more attention."
Copyright © 2004, Johnston Press New Media