A charity is appealing for funding to convert an abandoned building in Weston-super-Mare’s town centre into the UK’s first cannabis education centre.
Faces Training Support wants to raise £30,000 to redevelop the former Visions Art Glass Studio building, in Station Road, into a safe space for youngsters to learn more about the class B drug.
The charity’s founder, Steve Melhuish, aims to educate and support under-18s with cannabis-related problems through mentoring and support groups.
Steve’s brother, Robert Cox, was stabbed to death at the Stoneham Egerton Road Project in Bristol in 2013, a home for vulnerable people with mental health problems.
Robert was recovering from issues linked to drug abuse.
Steve wants to offer training programmes designed to educate people on the dangers of continued use of the substance from childhood.
Harm prevention workshops on issues such as county lines drug dealing, which has had a devastating impact on the town in recent years, knife amnesty and cannabis testing for chemicals will also take place and talks with Weston College and North Somerset Council are ongoing.
Steve said: “I do not want any kids to end up like my brother.
“Cannabis use heightened and aggravated his mental health issues, but had there been the correct education available maybe he would have thought twice about using it.
“I want the next generation to be fully informed and feel safe here, as sometimes people can be too scared to speak to their parents or the police.
“It will be better for youngsters to come to a safe place in the town centre, rather than hang around in parks where they are vulnerable and more likely to be approached for county lines dealings.”
The two-storey building will also operate as a café and classes on self defence, live music and e-sports teams are also planned.
Steve added: “At the moment there are no facilities for people like this in the country.
“It is important people are aware of all the dangers around the consumption of cannabis, including potential long-term mental health issues and social concerns.”
Weston’s MP John Penrose has given his backing to the project.
He said: “I would support anything which helps steer young people away from a life of addiction and improve their chances to live a normal, healthy lifestyle.”