September 23, 2002, Monday 03:26 PM Eastern Time
Laura Scott, PA News
A man "put his head on the line" to open an Amsterdam-style coffee shop
where seriously ill people could get cannabis to ease their pain, a court
Colin Davies was charged with a string of drugs offences after opening
Dutch Experience cafe in Stockport, Greater Manchester, last year.
The 44-year-old was arrested after smoking a joint during a police raid
the shop's opening day on September 15, Manchester's Minshull Street Crown
Davies claimed the shop's purpose was to supply cannabis to those who
the Class B drug for medicinal purposes - an idea which was born after he
visited coffee shops in Holland. Initially he had set up a group called the
Medical Marijuana Co-operative through which he was selling cannabis to
about 200 people with illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, Aids and
old people across the country, he told the court.
"Patients" were paying about £25 for between seven and 14 grams
which had an estimated street value of £70 TO £80, Davies said.
Shaking in the witness box, he added: "I had sort of taken it on to
these people. I had got to know a lot of old people and I had an affinity
with them and most of them were incapable of growing their own cannabis, or
getting a good type of cannabis."
He said he wanted to stop people having to endanger themselves to buy
drug from street dealers: "It brought home to me the dangers these people
are going through to help their illnesses.
"I wanted this cannabis distributed to the patients to make their life
little bit better. It's something I have been doing since 1996.
"And I am a caring person. I have put my head on the line for these
Police discovered around 90 grams of cannabis during a search of his
Romney Towers, Stockport, while customs officers at Dover later intercepted
parcels addressed to Davies containing 4kg of the drug - worth around
£18,000 and including more than 400 pre-rolled joints.
A jury of seven men and five women heard that Davies first smoked cannabis
in hospital where he was being treated for a damaged spinal cord after
falling 35ft on to a riverbed in Stockport in 1995.
He said he felt depressed after doctors told him he was probably paralysed
from the waist down and would probably not walk again.
He added: "The pain was like having a piece of barbed wire or a screwdriver
in the middle of my spinal cord and somebody was getting hold of it and
moving it up and down."
His first cannabis joint came after meeting a paraplegic girl in the
hospital's smoking room who offered him some of hers and said it would help
his pain better than other medicines.
The court heard how Davies started using cannabis regularly after this
ease his pain because a plethora of hospital prescription drugs he was
taking made him feel like a "zombie".
He said: "I did not have much of a life. I spent most of the mornings
floor in my living room and crawling about my flat.
"There was 101 things that the medication was doing to me. They put
me in a
bubble and I was getting depressed. Sex was also a problem."
Using cannabis, which Davies obtained from a local pub dealer at first,
"took the edge off the pain" and he soon began growing his own cannabis
plants to enhance the purity of what he was smoking, he said.
Later, he set up the Medical Marijuana Co-operative as the number of
people asking him for cannabis ballooned, which eventually led to his trying
to open the cafe, the court heard.
Davies said he was attempting to mirror a "medi-weed" system he saw
trip to Holland where some coffee shops sell cannabis at full price in order
to subsidise those patients who cannot afford it.
He and four other men involved in the coffee shop on the town's Hooper
Street - which Davies claimed both local police and the council were aware
he was planning to open - have now gone on trial charged with drugs
Davies is charged with a total of six counts, including possession of
Class B drug with intent to supply, being involved in the importation and
supply of cannabis and permitting premises to be used for the smoking of the
He told the court the packages addressed to him uncovered at Dover may
the result of a worldwide Internet appeal from the Medical Marijuana
Co-operative for cannabis donations for medicinal use.
Phillip Rainford, 35, of Market Place, Stockport, Stephen Caveney, 47,
Rishworth Close in Offerton, Stockport, and Andrew Young, 32, of Reddish
Road, Stockport, all face drug-related charges.
Robin Wright, 46, of Duncan Road, Longsight, is charged with permitting
cafe to be used for the smoking of cannabis while Davies was in custody.
All five men deny all the charges.
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.
© Copyright 2002 The Press Association Limited