Pubdate: Fri, 27 Aug 2004
Source: Evening News (UK)
Copyright: 2004 Archant Regional
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


A man who grew his own cannabis was given a condition discharge by
magistrates after they accepted he was smoking it to relieve the
symptoms of his severe eczema.

A Norfolk doctor leading clinical trials into the use of cannabis in
the treatment of ailments today said thousands more people suffering
pain and discomfort could be helped but for stigma of taking the drug.

Dr William Notcutt, who spearheaded Britain's first clinical trial of
the drug at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, said cannabis or
its derivatives could help people with conditions like eczema.

"We know some cannabis derivatives have an effect on pain in
rheumatoid arthritis," he said. "It doesn't surprise me that someone
is using cannabis in this way."

Deputy district judge Irena Ray-Crosby at Norwich magistrates court had told
Ian Howarth: "I totally accept the reasons for cultivating cannabis.   It
not done for fun.

"This is totally because of your exceptional circumstances. You are
obviously suffering."

Howarth, 25, of Falkland Close, Hellesdon, admitted growing cannabis,
driving off without paying for UKP15 worth of petrol and stealing two
packets of Germoline from the Asda in Hellesdon.

Prosecutor Ben Brighouse said he went to the Wayside service station
in Dereham Road, Costessey.

He put UKP15 worth of petrol into his Nissan Micra car, but left the
garage without paying for it.

Howarth was traced through his car and when police went to his home
they noticed the powerful odour of cannabis.

The found cannabis leaves and also plants being grown under
temperature controlled conditions. There were a total of 17 plants, 10
of them just seedlings.

Mr Brighouse said the estimated value of the leaves and plants was
about UKP800.

Anna Farquharson, for Howarth, said he was on sickness benefit because
of his acute eczema.

"He tells me smoking cannabis alleviates the itching and very often
the pain he suffers from eczema. He is regularly admitted to hospital
so bad is his eczema," she said.

"He also feels he is in a position to control the quality of the
cannabis to alleviate his symptoms."

Dr Notcutt has expressed his frustration that the Department of Health
had not yet agreed to make cannabis available as a painkiller on the

He said: "There are more than 200 patients in my pain clinic who want
to use cannabis for relief from their pain.

"There may be an opportunity for people like that to use this drug
sensibly and safely without suffering side effects. But it's being
held up because it's cannabis.

"There's a perception of what cannabis does and politicians find this
difficult to handle."

He added that many GPs had their suspicions that some of their
patients were using cannabis for pain relief.

Using the drug as a legal painkiller, under the control of the NHS, would
guarantee its quality and people wanting to use cannabis for this purpose
not have to seek out dealers in order to get a supply, he said.
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