A man has described his friend Chris Baldwin as ‘inspirational’ after the former cannabis cafe owner died earlier this month.
Trevor Scott, 60, from Sompting, has paid tribute to Chris, who died on March 13 aged 66 after suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung condition.
Chris, who lived in Worthing since the late seventies, was well-known for his advocacy of marijuana for medical purposes and his campain to legalise cannabis.
Trevor knew Chris for more than 37 years, and spent 15 years being his live-in carer at Chris’s home in Carnegie Close.
“He was my best friend – in fact, he was more like a brother to me,” said Trevor. “We had great times together. Even though he was disabled he didn’t let it get him down.”
As a child Chris sustained a spinal injury which caused painful leg spasms and led to him being unable to walk without a stick.
For many years Chris used cannabis to ease the spasms so he could sleep, but it was only after hearing controversial cannabis smuggler Howard Marks speak in Brighton and receiving a flyer for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance that he became involved in campaigning for the drug’s legalisation.
He ran for Parliament in the 2001 General Election as the LCA candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham, gaining 920 votes.
Trevor says: “When he got into something he really got into it; he was very inspirational to a lot of people, particularly other people using marijuana for medicinal reasons.
“People think ‘I’m ill but he was more ill than me, so if he can campaign, why can’t I?’”
Chris also opened two cannabis cafes in Worthing: The Quantum Leaf in Rowlands Road and Buddies in East Worthing. They operated for more than a year before being shut down in 2003 following a series of police raids.
Trevor says: “It was a safe place to come and have a coffee and a smoke with like-minded people. No-one was offered anything stronger or forced to do things they didn’t want to do and they knew what they were smoking wasn’t tampered with.”
Chris served six months in prison related to running the Quantum Leaf, which sparked peaceful protests outside Whitehall. He was released six weeks into his sentence.
The funeral, which Trevor has requested is a private ceremony, will take place at Worthing Crematorium on March 29 with hundreds of friends and family expected to turn up.
Chris is survived by one daughter.