|Des Humphrey (right) with Dutch coffeeshop entrepreneur, Nol Van Schaik
By Chris Bovey
Frequent travelers are used to heightened security at airports these days. It’s standard practice for hand luggage to be x-rayed and to have to walk through a metal detector. But British army veteran and medicinal cannabis activist Des Humphrey, got more than he bargained for last weekend when he arrived at Bristol Airport in England to fly to Amsterdam to attend the 25th anniversary of the Birdy Coffeeshop in Haarlem, invited by owner Wilco Sijm.
After Des’ bags had been x-rayed, the UK border staff then emptied their entire contents, rummaging through all his clothes, checking the pockets and performing swab tests on them. His wheelchair was given a full once over: checking the wheels, under his seat, every square inch. Des himself was fully patted down and his pockets were emptied.
When they had finished and Des thought he was finally on his way, he was then stopped again by a British policeman who informed him the border agency staff were looking for cannabis and proceeded to question him on his cannabis usage. Well, those who know Des Humphrey also know that he is more than happy to talk about cannabis and, as you might expect, ended up having a nice chat with the police officer.
|Coffeeshop Birdy in Haarlem, Des Humphrey’s destination in the Netherlands|
When asked if he had used cannabis that day, Des told the officer: “Of course I’ve used cannabis today, I’m having to go on a long journey so I made sure I was adequately medicated before I left, to stop me having spasms and seizures. I also use it as an effective painkiller.”
Des added, “I fully intend to medicate some more when I get to the Netherlands. However, the idea that I would smuggle British street grade cannabis into Holland is ludicrous.”
When asked if the border agency staff treated him courteously, Des said: “To be fair they were very polite and friendly; I have no issues with them in that respect. Turns out the policeman who questioned me was ex-army too, so we had a nice little natter about army times and what regiments we were in.
“They don’t do random stops in the UK,” Humphrey said. “They had obviously been told from above to stop, search and question me. I got the feeling the officer was a bit embarrassed about having to do it; he was a nice guy and I wish him no ill feelings at all.
|Inside Coffeeshop Birdy|
“One does have to ask the question, at times when we are told of heightened security during the London Olympics, why the powers that be are instructing UK border agency staff and the British police to waste their time searching and questioning me while I’m leaving the country to go on a short weekend break,” he told Toke of the Town.
Des made it to Haarlam safely where he had a wonderful time and medicated with some of the finest cannabis the Birdy Coffeeshop had to offer. Asked if he brought any cannabis back to the UK with him, Des said: “No I didn’t, as it’s not worth the hassle, which is a great shame really, as they have proper medical grade cannabis in the Netherlands, which is very hard to access on the black market in the UK.
“The crazy thing is a Dutch person with the same condition as mine would have legally been allowed to bring cannabis back into the UK under the Schengen Agreement, yet if I did the same, I could be arrested and even thrown into prison,” Des said.
“It is most unfair that a Dutch citizen who uses cannabis to alleviate their symptoms is not at risk of prosecution while a British person in the same situation would be,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, the Independent, a leading British national newspaper, has published a story detailing NORML UK‘s plans to hold a smoking protest outside the House of Parliament. The group hopes to highlight the discrepancies in EU and British law that permit European Bedrocan patients to bring cannabis into the UK, but prevent and punish British citizens for doing the same.
Chris Bovey is an Internet entrepreneur, writer and musician from Devon in South West England. He is the NORML UK webmaster and treasurer.