The “Dutch Experience” is turning into a persecution experience for 44-year-old English medical marijuana activist Colin Davies.
As reported by Cannabis Culture earlier this month, Davies and Dutch potshop legend Nol Van Schaik opened the first public canna-coffee shop, The Dutch Experience, in Stockport, England on September 15th.
Police had been notified, via Van Schaik’s www.wwwshop.nl website postings, that he and Davies were planning to sell marijuana to both medical and recreational users. They told Davies that they were not going to bust the shop, but on the morning of the grand opening, they came anyway.
Davies, Van Schaik and several other activists were arrested, even though they didn’t have any marijuana on them. Medical patients, including Davies, were manhandled by police. International media, including the BBC, filmed and broadcast the police scuttling of The Dutch Experience.
The arrested pot advocates were held several hours and then released without charges, with police saying that charges might be filed later on. Patients in wheelchairs pried open the nailed shut doors of the shop while Davies was still in jail, and defied police who came back to chastise them for smoking marijuana.
Last week, several of the arresting officers from the grand opening bust visited Davies, telling him they were sorry that they had arrested him, and explaining that they were acting on orders from nameless individuals in the chain of command above them.
“I have always spoken freely and from my heart with police,” Davies said. “I have nothing to hide. I know that I am on a mission of mercy and compassion. These officers seemed to be sincere. I believed that they were telling me that The Dutch Experience was going to be left alone from now on.”
Davies resupplied his stocks of medicine seized in the first arrest, and began helping people again. At 9 am on Saturday, September 22nd, police showed up at Davies’ home just as he was leaving to open the coffee shop.
They found two ounces of marijuana, and arrested him. According to Van Schaik, who has been in touch with distraught patients in Stockport and with Colin’s lawyer, Davies was still in jail several hours later. Manchester police spokespersons refused to talk about the case, saying that they couldn’t discuss a “pending situation under investigation.”
“I’m shocked by the arrest,” Van Schaik said. “The police were rude and unprofessional the first time, and they had no good reason to harm Colin again. He is suffering in jail, and they keep stealing his medicine away from him. I find it amazing that in a time when all of Europe and North America are worried about terrorist attacks everywhere, that the police of England have time to harass marijuana users and providers. Where is there sense of priorities? Who is giving them their orders? Why are they harming harmless people?”
Van Schaik, who was planning to give a major policy speech and conduct a peaceful smoke-in with hundreds of tokers at London’s annual September 29th marijuana rally in Hyde Park, now worries that hardline drug war policies are intensifying, rather than declining, in England.
One of Colin’s British patients, named George, showed up this weekend at Van Schaik’s Frans Hals coffee shop in Haarlem, Holland outside Amsterdam.
“I know that Nol and Wernard Bruining created the Dutch mediweed system that Colin is following,” George said. “I had to fly all the way over here to get marijuana. I have Hepatitis C and without marijuana I suffer more. I had to pay for air tickets and I can’t afford a hotel. There is nothing but low quality marijuana available in the UK where I live. I am scared to grow my own. What they did when the arrested Colin and Nol is to take a direct hit against me. Why do they want to kill me?”
He asked that all members of the cannabis culture bombard the Manchester police with emails demanding answers about The Dutch Experience arrests and the fate of Colin Davies.
The police email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.