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The Dutch Experience campaign

Britains first Amsterdam style coffee shop opened on the 15th September 2001 in Stockport, Manchester. The police shut it down, but it re-opened later that day. Read the story of the opening day - click here

The shop carried on for a couple of months and proved to be a very popular venue in the local community and indeed began to attract a lot of press interest.

Colin Davies, the owner, was arrested and held in detention without trial for seven months on remand. Read the announcment of his release here from Nol van Schaik, Co-founder of the Dutch Experience. Click here

The Bust

The Dutch Experience was raided in late November, a totally unexpect development given the relaxed and tolerant attitude of the police up till then. Read UKCIA's report - click here.

As a result of this raid Colin Davies the owner is being held in Strangeways prison (in the hospital wing) and he needs your help, for some ideas of what you can do, click here

As the year drew to an end, the protests in support of the Dutch Experience began to grow. Two MEP's "turned themselves in" by admitting to the possession of a symbolic amount of cannabis, coach tours were arranged and support groups held demos. At the start of 2002 the protests continued with a third MEP presenting himself for arrest, only to be turned away by the police. 29th January saw the first in the series of court trials and the C! day demo.

Mystery tour on the Cannabus!

On Saturday 22nd December, the.magical mystery Cannabus took to the streets of Manchester. Continuing the campaign to free Colin Davis from his incarceration in Strangeways prison, a group of activists made a roundabout trip from Colin's home area to the heart of Manchester Piccadilly. Complete with on-board sound system and 5000 leaflets, the bus brought the injustice to the attention of the public in style!

MEP's support Chris Davies

Wednesday 19th December 2001:

Chris Davies, the Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West offered himself for arrest by Greater Manchester police for possession of a tiny amount of cannabis resin on a postage stamp on Saturday 15th December. It took place at the police station, Lee Street, Stockport during the latest demonstration in support of Colin Davies and the Dutch Experience coffee shop.

He waned to draw attention to the experience of his constituent, Colin Davies (no relation) who is currently in Strangeways prison on remand while awaiting trial on cannabis-related offences. Colin has been repeatedly denied bail despite never having being convicted of a drugs-related offence. This arrest would seem to indicate that the Stockport police are acting not so much to uphold the law, but rather to prevent a political point from being made. More news when we get it.

Chris will appeare in court on Thursday 20th December



Chris Davies MEP being arrested

More links

BBC News Online report
Chris Davies news release
Chris Davies's press release pre demo
Libdem cannabis policy
Italian MEP's press release

Friday 21st December

Stockport police have confirmed that a second MEP has been arrested whilst making a protest in support of Colin Davies, the owner of the "Dutch Experience", Britain's first cannabis coffeeshop in Stockport.

Marco Capatto was charged with possession of a tiny amount of cannabis on a postage stamp, he refused bail and was held overnight to appear in magistrates court today (Friday 21st). He has now accepted bail form the magistrates and will return toward the end of January.

In a separate development, Chris Davies, the Lib Dem MEP for the North West has opted for a jury trial. He was charged with possession of a tiny amount of cannabis in a symbolic demonstration in support of Colin on Saturday 15th December.

We have also heard that Colin Davies is being held in custody and will not appear in court until February at the earliest.

Protests are becoming a weekly event with a constant stream of people offering themselves for arrest.

More information will follow as we get it. Thanks to Experiencewm - click here

Second MEP arrested

Vigil for Colin

On Sunday 16th December about 20 supporters of Colin held a vigil outside Strangeways prison to wish Colin a happy Christmas.

They've collected signatures on a Christmas card which was sent by registered post later that day.

More vigils are planned in support of Colin.

This was sent to UKCIA

Colins' Chrstmas card

Just to let everyone know we collected well over 100 signatures on the roundrobin Xmas card for Colin Davies here in Manchester - and with those
friends I've heard from who are taking it round their workplaces and sending it on direct to Colin @ Strangeways, it's probably nearer 200 now.

People who signed include teaching and non-teaching staff at my partner's school in Stretford, local social services team, hospital workers, town hall workers, and most people at two xmas socials, one for refugees/asylum seekers, the other our local anti-war group. There's such goodwill out there !

All the best, Penny

Stockport police back down and refuse to charge MEP

Marco Pannella MEP

Dutch Experience Press release
- Click here

Ananova report on the day
- Click here

Monday 28th January 2002
MEP Marco Pannella

The Stockport police seem uncertain how to handle the demostrations in support of the Dutch Experience coffee shop. Up top now they had adopted a hard line approach, arresting people even for simple possession. Just before Christmas two MEP's were arrested for possession of tiny, symbolic, amounts of cannabis.

However, when nonviolent Italian radical party leader, MEP Marco Pannella presented himself for arrest in a similar act of civil dissobedience on Monday 28th January things went differently. About 25 of protesters stood outside Stockport police station whilst Marco Pannella gave a press statement. Unlike previous occassions, there were no police present.

In the end he had to go into the station to be arrested as nobody would come out at all, so along with about 15 folk and loads of cameras he went in. The police quickly kicked all the cameras out, then proceeded to do something strange.

They confiscated Marco's Panellas weed, gave him a receipt for it and told him it was not in the public interest to arrest him. They had stated in the past that when challenged with overtly illegal behaviour they would enforce the law to the full, not this time, not even a caution just a bit of paper saying "we have nicked your weed"

Colin Davies - witnesses required

Anyone who has received medicine from Colin for or who tried to recieve medicine and who wants to be a defence witness at his trial please contact:

Chris Hinnet at Henry and Co Solicitors 0161 477 8558

The more patients they hear from the better (looking for over 200 to attend court as defence witnesses)

C! day - for a report on the demo in support of Colin Davies and the Dutch Experience in Stockport on Jauary 29th - click here

BBC Northwest and Granada TV news reports
BBC - Click here Granada Click here
(930KB and 1.41MB - open in Media player)

Open letter from Colin to The Manchester Evening News, February 2002 - Click here

C! day 29th January 2002

Class B or Class C!, Colin Davies should be free!


Colin Davies released on bail!

Colin Davies, Co-founder of the Dutch Experience Coffee shop in Stockport was released on bail on Friday 17th May by Manchester Crown court after serving SEVEN months on remand.

To what end was Colin’s time on remand justified? The Dutch Experience coffeeshop is still open, and many more cannabis entrepreneurs are now following in Colin’s footsteps with at least 12 more coffeeshops opening nationwide this summer.

Is it right that an disabled man who has twice been vindicated by a jury can be locked up to silence him?

Colin has now served his time whether he is found guilty or not, the state has exacted it’s punishment on him by using the remand law in a wholly unjustified way.

Colins release has been under very stringent bail conditions which allows him very limited movement on release, one major restriction is that Colin stays out of the Greater Manchester area, which excludes him from his home (not seen in seven months), easy contact with his children, and the chance to start to put his life back together in his own community after being imprisoned with out trial for far too long.

The attitude towards cannabis in the UK has now shifted towards a more understanding and accepting attitude, with our own government’s advisory bodies stating clearly that cannabis is less harmful than either of the two legal drugs alcohol and tobacco. With this justified change in attitude to cannabis how can the UK Home Office justify their treatment of Colin Davies,
a man who has twice beaten them in court by being HONEST, and a man who has only tried to help sick and disabled people like himself ?

Colin is ‘free’ now, with the aforementioned restrictions, his dream is still alive, the Dutch Experience is open for over 9 months today, and became a symbol for cannabis activists around the world.

Colin’s trial is set for June 24, 2002, in Manchester Crown Court, where a jury has to decide if he is guilty or not, after hearing dozens of witnesses on Colin’s behalf. All in the publics interest.

Nol van Schaik,
Co-founder of the Dutch Experience.

Colin was re-arrested on Monday, July 1st - click here

Colin Davis found guilty - Dutch Experience raided

Colin Davis, the founder of the UK's first cannabis coffeeshop in Stockport was sentenced today (Thursday 3rd October), nearly a year after the shop was raided by Greater Manchester police

Colin was given various sentences up to a max of 2 years for the offences the jury found him guilty of yesterday (to run 'concurrently). the heaviest sentences for November 20th offences because he'd carried on after the September busts

Also 12 months each (also to run 'concurrently') for the PERJURY and POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO SUPPLY charges from July of this year, which he pleaded guilty to this morning,

But the two groups of sentences to run consecutively, so a total of 3 years.

The packed public gallery were shocked into a stunned silence by the severity of the sentences.

There is a possibility of an appeal against the sentences but that will probably take months.

We think Colin will be back in Strangeways for now but will probably be moved to another (hopefully better) prison fairly soon now he has been convicted.

Colin Senior was also in court to face Perjury charges - he pleaded not guilty and the Crown decided it wasn't in the public interest to go ahead.

Colin was found guilty of three counts of possessing a Class B drug with intent to supply at Manchester's Minshull Crown Court, also of supplying a Class B drug and of being involved in the importation of cannabis.

He was also convicted of permitting the premises to be used for the smoking
of the drug.

A jury of seven men and five women took just over five hours to reach their

Shortly after the sentences were passed, around 50 police raided the cafe.

DE Press release - click here


Cannabis remains the most popular drug in the EU.

Britain had the second highest number of users who had tried the drug at least once (second only to Denmark).

Of adult Britons, 27% said they had smoked a joint

44% of young Britons said so.

Guardian, 4th Ocotber 2002
Full story - click here

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