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A DUTCH police officer invited to speak to a gathering of Scotland's top
drugs police caused a major row yesterday by predicting the introduction of
cannabis cafes north of the border.

The Scottish Police Drugs Conference in Dunblane was told by Dutch police
inspector Ton Snip that cannabis coffee shops could be expected to appear
on street corners in the main cities within just "one or two years".

Inspector Snip - an officer for 20 years with Dutch police and 10 years
with the Dutch drugs squad - warned delegates at the conference, organised
by Scotland's chief police officers, that the pressure for legalisation of
cannabis was irresistible.

He claimed that cannabis cafes had been responsible for preventing football
riots and would actually stop young people progressing to hard drugs like
heroin and cocaine.

His views were immediately condemned by senior officers and by Scotland
Against Drugs, which said cannabis cafes would make the country a Mecca for
drug tourism.

Insp Snip told the second day of the conference "Cannabis cafes would
probably work in Scotland. It is a good system for Holland.

"We see young people coming from Scotland to our country and the first
thing they do is go to the cannabis coffee shops.

"If the public wants to have this kind of coffee shops, then they will
come. I think it will happen sooner than everyone thinks.

"I would say that the first one will open in the next year or two years and
after that it will go rapidly, with coffee shops opening all over
Scotland,' he said.

'Young people are looking for something and they will ex-periment.

'The first drug they take is cannabis. If we can make coffee shops as safe
as possible, we believe that the experimental phase will end when they stop
using cannabis.

"Some young people go on to use other drugs, but most do not. Most get on
with their lives.

"The young people are not stupid, but you must influence their attitude
towards drugs so that they get the right information and they can decide
for themselves whether they will use drugs."

Insp Snip said that during the European football championships, which took
place in Holland and Belgium in 2000, cafes were successfully kept open for
English fans.

He said: 'There was a big debate about whether to keep the coffee shops
open during Euro 2000, but the fans of England and other, countries came
and we had no problems, because cannabis has a calming effect on people."

Conference chairman Jim Orr, director of the Scottish Drug Enforcement
Agency, said Insp Snip's presentation had been "interesting". He said:
'Cannabis use is illegal in the United Kingdom and certainly it is illegal
to supply cannabis from a cafe or any other premises.

"There is a danger in looking at cannabis cafes as an instant solution.
From our viewpoint, all drugs are dangerous."

Director of Scotland Against Drugs Alastair Ramsay warned, however, that
Scotland could attract thousands of unwelcome drugs tourists if cannabis
cafes were introduced,

He said: "I went across to Holland, to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and, by and
large, the people there are saying they don't like all the foreign
na-tionals coming over and smoking cannabis in the cannabis cafes.

"They don't like it and they don't want it to continue. I think the Dutch
experience would be replicated here. If we had cannabis cafes, we would see
people coming to Scotland from all over to take drugs."

Plans for a cannabis cafe in Dundee were announced last year and
immediately con-demned as illegal by Tayside Police.

The Scottish-based Medical Marijuana Co-operative (MMCO) said it was
searching for premises in the city.

A similar plan was put forward for Edinburgh.

The UK's first marijuana cafe The Dutch Experience - opened in Stockport,
Greater Manchester, in September.

Despite police intervention and an initial flurry of arrests, it continues
to operate.

Newshawk: The Legalise Cannabis Alliance <http://www.lca-uk.org>
Pubdate: Sat, 09 Mar 2002
Source: Press & Journal (UK)
Copyright: 2002: Northcliffe Newspapers Group Ltd.
Contact: editor@pj.ajl.co.uk
Website: Home | Press and Journal
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