Colin Davies, 44, owner and operator of the pioneering Dutch Experience cannabis cafe in the Manchester suburb of Stockport, has been released on bail after spending the last six months in Strangeways Prison. Davies, a veteran medical marijuana campaigner who uses the herb for a five-year-old spinal injury, was jailed after police raided the cafe last November. Police charged Davies and two others with possession of cannabis with intent to distribute, possession of a controlled drug, permitting premises to be used for marijuana consumption, and "being concerned in the supply of cannabis."

The Dutch Experience had been open for business for three months and had survived a raid even prior to its opening last September. But after the cafe began to generate publicity in the form of newspaper and TV coverage, Manchester police moved in. Although Davies remained behind bars, the business continues to operate. Davies' arrest and the refusal of the presiding judge to grant bail sparked angry outbursts in the courtroom and led to a series of demonstrations at Manchester police headquarters in which British and Italian Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) offered themselves up for arrest in solidarity with Davies.

More than 50 supporters cheered Davies as he emerged from the Minshull Street Crown Court. His first act was to light a hand-rolled cigarette of unknown provenance. In exchange for his temporary freedom, Davies must observe a ban on giving interviews about his case and his broader campaign to legalize cannabis. He is also barred from the Stockport area and specifically from the premises of the Dutch Experience. He goes on trial June 24.

-- END --
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Issue #238, 5/24/02 Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform Joins with Members of Congress at US Capitol to Call for Repeal of HEA Drug Provision | British MPs Call for Massive Drug Policy Reform, But Reject Legalization -- for Now | Incoming Dutch Government Threatens Coffee Shops | Budget Crunch: Drug War Fuels Mississippi Prison Binge, No Money Left for Education | High School Drug Courts Spreading in West Virginia | Newsbrief: Marijuana Exile Steve Kubby Claims Refugee Status in Canada | Newsbrief: British Cannabis Cafe Owner Freed | Newsbrief: North Carolina Drug Courts Face Ax Because of Budget Woes | Newsbrief: New York City Cops in Paraphernalia Sweep, Big Hoopla, Misdemeanor Arrests | Newsbrief: Seattle Marijuana Initiative Signature-Gathering Now Underway | Newsbrief: Santa Cruz to Place Needle Disposal Boxes in Public Restrooms | Errata: Different Kinds of Mushrooms | The Reformer's Calendar

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