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The Quantum Leaf - Worthing's first coffeeshop

On the 26th June 2002, in an adjoining room to his existing headshop "Bongchuffa", Chris Baldwin opened Worthing's first Dutch-style coffeeshop - "Quantum Leaf". This coffeeshop proceeded smoothly with its business for several months with especial attention given to involve and support those people who use cannabis for medical reasons.

Towards the end of October, the cafe was raided by more than 30 police officers equipped with bulletproof vests, helmets and battering rams. A large quantity of cannabis was "recovered" by the police and 12 arrests were made. Chris, who was one of the 12 arrested, immediately reopened the cafe, saying "They'll have to lock me up to stop me.".

However, a fortnight later, as part of "Operation Thor", the police raided the cafe once more. Once again they arrested Chris for allowing his premises to be used for cannabis usage, along with another person for possession of approximately a joint's worth of cannabis. Sadly, due to the increasing police pressure and an eviction notice subsequently served by the letting agents, Spratt's Estate Agents, the cafe was forced to close on the 25th January 2003, seven months after it opened.

Since then, Chris Baldwin and his associates have been through a series of court trials, fiercely protested by campaigners from Worthing and beyond. On the 3rd February Chris Baldwin, Mark Benson and Adrian Allday appeared in the Magistrates Court and were released on bail. As reported in the local paper, the Argus, all 3 were charged with permitting the premises to be used for cannabis usage, and Chris and Mark both were additionally charged with the possession and supply of cannabis.

On the 18th February, Chris, Mark and Adrian re-appeared in court. Chris entered no plea, and Mark and Adrian pleaded not guilty to the charges and all three were once again bailed. Whilst this was going on, between 70 - 100 activists held a peaceful protest outside the court to show their support for Chris' venture and for the legalisation of cannabis. During the trial the campaigners held a march to the Town Hall, the police station and returned to court to meet Chris as he left. No arrests were made despite obvious further use of cannabis.

They reappeared in court at the beginning of April, along with Winston Matthews who has been charged with "being the
occupier of premises permitting a drug offence". Again, all were released on bail and they will return again on the 15th April, where their trials will probably be taken to the Crown Court. The Worthing protesters used this day to hold a further demo for the legalisation of cannabis. Being April Fool's day, the theme was a fancy dress competition and as can be seen below there were some very inventive costumes on show!

Quatum leaf crew

Picture supplied by Sarah Chalk, taken by Argus photographer Eddie Mitchell. Many thanks to both!

The protesters made banners and marched down to the Town Hall. They then presented the councillors with a petition of 500 signatures to support the legalisation campaign. A supportative Liberal Democrat MP came out to speak to them, and gave a friendly interview to Paul Dooner and Sarah Chalk. Clara O'Donnell, from the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, was also present and wrote a report of the day which you can read here.

Chris and associates are due back in court on Tuesday the 15th April and another demo is planned outside the Magistrates Court at 9:30AM. If you are able, UKCIA urges you to turn up and show your support!

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