UK pot smokers plan cannabis cafes
WORTHING, England (CNN) -- Chris Baldwin has been smoking the equivalent of 10 cannabis joints a day for the last 33 years.
He says Britain's plan to go softer on marijuana consumption makes Dutch-style coffee shops the next natural step.
And when he finds a locale, he says, he's opening his own pot shop in the small southern sea town of Worthing.
"I would like to provide a full Dutch-style coffee shop menu -- a selection of eight to 10 grasses, eight to 10 hashes, all good, clean, excellent quality," says Baldwin.
Britain's main drug advisory group recently suggested cannabis be downgraded from a Class B drug, like amphetamines, to a Class C substance, like steroids.
That means pot would still be illegal, but selling and consuming it would become minor offences -- the kind rarely enforced.
Now coffee shop campaigners are determined to take advantage of the government's softer stance on certain drugs.
And with coffee shops in the planning across the country from Manchester to Worthing, some say Britain is going down the wrong path.
"I think they're entirely wrong and I think the consequences for society of legalising cannabis will be bad in many ways," says Daily Mail editor Peter Hitchens.
"It will increase crime, it will increase lassitude and sloth, it will increase the general level of drug-taking in society, because it will introduce more people to the idea that drug-taking is nothing wrong."
But pot smokers from across Britain say their "in-your-face" tactic will work, eventually turning an unlawful practice into a de facto legal business.
Whether Britain will replicate the Dutch experience will largely depend on British society's response to these coffee shops.
If police turn a blind eye, chances are that in the near future -- wherever you are in Britain -- there might be a pot shop near you.
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