Liverpool Crown Court heard the case for Mr Gary Youds at 2.15pm on 28/02/2020.
Court Support Group activists and Cannabis Social Club members gathered from 9.30 am onwards to join family, friends and local supporters on the top floor. Mr Youds was given a small room that only allowed 10 people to be with him during the proceedings.
The case was hearing the state’s attempt to prosecute Gary for 200 cannabis plants plus possession, following an aggressive police raid of The Chillin Rooms that set in motion a chain reaction of privacy invasions on his home and the homes of others involved with managing the club.
The confusion from the court staff was apparent throughout the day as many people brought a positive attitude to a building which has oppressed cannabis culture and others during its history.
Gary as always was positive and smiling, thanking everybody for supporting him, but we could not look past the bag on his back that symbolised perhaps his last hours of freedom. Then again, in the last 17 years has he ever really been free?
Gary opened up The Chillin Rooms in 2002 and applied for a ‘private member’s’ license to the local authority which was denied. He has since had his life turned upside down by law enforcement that does not understand the value of harm reduction and how drug policy reform would help them and the community.
Gary and many others believe there are thousands of police hours used up trying to fight cannabis use in Liverpool and the U.K. We can see in our communities the detrimental impact of zero-tolerance policing and how the UK is a postcode lottery for a criminal record.
Gary gave us a right to privacy and put his freedom on the line for the community. As a thank you for his service in Liverpool he has had several prison sentences , harassment , restrictions to connect with family and also from visiting specific places. Despite this Gary has always stuck by his rhetoric that what he is doing is helping and is the future way of thinking about cannabis culture and society.
Gary left Liverpool Crown Court with his family, friends and cannabis brothers and sisters with a 12-month community order that requires he attend probation for 25 hours during this time. This was an amazing result for someone expecting his first night of many in a prison cell.
Gary said: “Court Support works and I’ve just got to go and see my probation officer who I see every month anyway, he’s sound”
After all this there was still not a sour word from Gary.
Callie Blackwell and JJ Clements commented that they disagree with any prosecution what so ever but see this is the least the court could do after getting to this point.
How much has this cost Merseyside Police and Crown Prosecution Service ?
We gathered outside for space cakes, joints and cheers to celebrate the next chapter of Gary’s life. Best of luck Gary we look forward to hearing about your ventures in the future , Liverpool need a place to chill.