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The Hempire News - November 02

Thanks to everyone who filled out the questionnaire, we're a lot clearer about the way ahead now. Apparently a huge number of us feel unsatisfied by the 'pub experience'. What seems to be missing is an environment totally dedicated to meeting our needs. A place where the lighting, the music, the food, the drink and - above all - the other people, suit our particular tastes.

The difficulty we, as proprietors, face is that we cannot knowingly permit the smoking of cannabis without breaking the law. And we can't get the investment we need to create the environment you want whilst running such a liable venture.

Therefore, we're going to have to make it obvious we do not knowingly permit the smoking of cannabis on our premises. Instead, we'll sell legal alternatives and trust that anyone with Rizla and a broken cigarette is simply using one of those. We will, of course, investigate any claim to the contrary officer.

It is important to remember the police are not the enemy. Many of them would prefer cannabis consumption to take place in controlled environments but cannot allow this because the law forbids it. However, and as mentioned in last month's newsletter, there are instances where law breaking is ignored for the greater good.

No one wants to see a rise in street prostitution and accordingly the police don't proactively investigate massage parlours despite knowing their primary purpose. The police only take action when complaints about their activities are made. So it seems clear that any establishment which provides an - albeit illegal - service to the community must make sure the police do not receive complaints about it.

No business can state that it intends to break the law and expect the police to leave them alone.

On the premises front we've found a place we love. Imagine a long building, with open bricked walls, arched windows, a high skylighted ceiling and large outside area. It really is a bit special. Although being more than three times the size we first thought about, it's also on a whole other level.

Whilst this can make the project seem even more scary we're going ahead simply because this space feels right. It's always difficult to explain but you know when you know. One step through the door and you'll know too. Or at least we hope you will.

The good, and confidence building, news is that our landlord has agreed to invest a very significant sum of money in the idea. Having his support can make a huge amount of difference to our success and having the first bit of investment makes it easier to secure the rest.

We've found someone to design the space, and his understanding of our needs has been proved already by a few ingenious ideas. This kind of project is daunting if you get too stuck on the details. Every now and then it's important to step back and look at the big picture. Conversations with Paddy help us visualise the prize.

It is a slow process though and whilst we want to open as soon as possible expensive mistakes happen when plans like this are rushed. We don't want to give any target dates until we know more about what's involved. However, it would be a real shame not to be open at a time when you can really make use of our outside space.