Pubdate: Fri, 17 Mar 2000
Source: Eastern Daily Press (UK)
Copyright: 2000 Eastern Counties Newspapers Group Ltd
Contact:  Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE, UK
Author: Brian Farmer


"I tried cannabis and it got rid of all my pain within half an hour to an hour"

Police found more than 40 cannabis plants growing at the house of a 
disabled multiple sclerosis sufferer, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Former deep sea diver Thomas Yates, 51, of Lowestoft, said he took the 
cannabis to ease the pain of his illness and denies producing an illegal drug.

Mr Yates, father-of-two from Luzon, Bedforshire, moved to Lowestoft 12 
tears ago to run a guesthouse. He argues that it was necessary for him to 
take cannabis in order to ease his suffering and prolong his life.

The court was told that Mr Yates was hoping to take part in 
government-sponsored trials during which he would be legally allowed to 
take tablets based on cannabis.

Police called at his house searching for a man who had stayed at his 
guesthouse some years ago.

The fugitive was not there, but police found three rooms on an upper floor 
were being used to grow cannabis.

Sally Freeman, prosecuting, told the jury that necessity is not a defence 
to the production of an illegal drug.

"Mr Yates is a very sick man and that no doubt will attract a lot of 
sympathy," she said.

"Mr Yates will in due course, I anticipate, be saying he had no option but 
to do what he did.

"It is the Crown's case that is not a defence.

"We will argue that what Mr Yates did is against the law and if that if 
that law need to be changed it needs to be changed elsewhere."

Yates told the court his wife had lung cancer and had been given two years 
to live.

He was trying to stockpile cannabis so that he had enough for up to ten 
years because he knew that he would have to spend more time caring for his 

The court heard that he had started to suffer from the symptoms of multiple 
Sclerosis about 13 years ago.

He had to stop running his guest house about five years ago, and now lived 
on disability benefits.

He said he had been prescribed a variety of medication by doctors including 
morphine, sleeping tablets and anti-depression tablets.

But they had accused severe side-effects, making him sick, constipated and 
unable to eat and sleep.

Yates said he had read about the medicinal use of cannabis in an article in 
the Guardian newspaper and ben advised to take it by fellow sufferers.

He had started to cultivate his own cannabis - against his wife's wishes 
about five years ago.

"I tried cannabis and it got rid of all my pain within half an hour to an 
hour," he said.  "The pain had all gone - 95 per cent of it anyway."

He added: "My quality of life was 100 times better."

Without drugs he was in constant pain, suffered muscle spasms and had 
difficulty walking."

He said cannabis "worked brilliantly", made him feel "euphoric" and able to 

Yates, whose sister also has MS, said his doctors were aware he was taking 

William Notcutt, a consultant anesthetist at the James Pa get Hospital in 
Gorleston, said Yates was not the only one of his patients using cannabis 
to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis.

He added: "It (cannabis) is an effective way of managing pain for a lot of 
patients with multiple sclerosis and many other conditions."

Many patients suffered so badly from the sideeffects of morphine that they 
would rather have the pain than take morphine, he said.

Mr Notcutt is a leading authority on the medicinal use of cannabis and 
addressed a House of Lords committee on the subject two years ago.

The hearing continues today. 
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