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Cannabis cafe man jailed for a year

Sarah Chapman, Liverpool Echo, 25th April 2006

THE owner of a Liverpool cannabis cafe, who ignored police demands to close down, was today jailed.

Gary Youds, 36, is starting a 12-month sentence for drugs offences after he repeatedly flouted laws banning Amsterdam-style cafes.

Liverpool crown court was told Youds, a property developer, opened the Chillin' Rooms in Holt Road, Kensington, and began allowing people to smoke the drug in the cafe.

David Owen, prosecuting, said police raided the cafe three times last year. Each time, officers noticed the air was thick with the smell and smoke of cannabis and there were several people inside the cafe.

Users were cautioned for smoking the drug, declassified from class B to class C last year.

Youds was arrested and raids on his semi in Cavan Road, Norris Green, revealed cannabis, cannabis plants and cuttings grew in an outbuilding.

He admitted the drugs were for his own use and told police he would give away the plants and cuttings to anyone who wanted them.

John Gibson, defending, said Youds believed people's attitude towards cannabis use had changed and he did not expect the police to arrest him for running the cafe.

Judge Brian Lewis said his repeated flouting of the law meant a custodial sentence was inevitable.

Judge Lewis told Youds: "Either you wanted to martyr yourself in the cause of the pro-cannabis lobby or you wanted to set up a cafe, a deliberate and blatant challenge to the law."

Youds pleaded guilty to two charges of permitting the use of his premises for smoking cannabis.

He was convicted for the same offence last year, when he was conditionally discharged.

He also admitted cultivating cannabis, producing cannabis and possession with intent to supply.

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