Pubdate: Tue, 22 Mar 2005
Source: Evening Chronicle (UK)
Copyright: 2005 Trinity Mirror Plc
Contact: Thomson House, Groat Market, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1ED
Author: Jamie Diffley
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


Up until the start of this year nobody had heard of pensioner Patricia
Tabram. But her cannabis cooking skills have made her sought-after
property. Jamie Diffley went to meet her.

Getting hold of Patricia Tabram was no easy task. Ring her phone and
an answering machine kicks in straight away.

"This is grandma speaking," it begins before going on to give the
number of her agent in London, the same literary agent that looks
after legendary drug-dealer Howard Marks.

Patricia Tabram is no ordinary grandma.

Since she was arrested in January, 66-year-old Patricia has rarely
been out of the media spotlight.

The grandmother-of-two's bungalow in the quiet Northumberland village
of Humshaugh, near Hexham, was raided twice last year by police after
they were tipped off about the unusual smells coming from her kitchen.

Smells caused by the high-grade cannabis Patricia puts in her food.

For more than 18 months Patricia has been making home-made cakes,
soups and casseroles with cannabis mixed in. It is, she says, the only
effective way to relieve the pain and depression she has suffered for
almost 30 years.

The news story, exclusively revealed in the Chronicle, caused a storm.
Soon other reporters were knocking on her door. Then the story went

"I had two Italian reporters round last week," says Pat from her
modest home. "One was from the biggest magazine in Italy and he took
about 300 photographs of me in different parts of the village. He was
here for three days and when he went another reporter came round
called Fabio."

Such is Patricia's fame that Fabio just turned up in Newcastle and
started asking around.

"He went to a place in Westgate Road that sells all the paraphernalia
associated with cannabis and asked if they knew me," she says. "There
was a young lad in who shouted out 'that's my grandma' and told the
reporter where I live. I'm not really his grandma but a lot of people
call me that."

Her fame is set to widen even further after signing with an agent.
Patricia has written her life story and filmmakers make sporadic
appearances at her house for a new documentary which will most likely
be aired in October.

But first is the publication of her Cannabis Cookbook, a collection of
her favourite recipes with her special added ingredient.

The contract sits on her table as we chat. It is, as yet, unsigned.
She is not happy with the finer details, apparently.

"I just want to sell the book to let people know how to do it and what
measures to use," she insists. "The agents are going on about how I
could make millions but I'm not motivated by money.

"I'm 66. What would I want with money? I can only wear one pair of
shoes at a time and I don't want to leave my home."

Despite the intense publicity she has generated, so far her earnings
are no more than UKP 50.

What motivates the former restaurant owner is, she says, her message -
that cannabis used for medicinal purposes is far more effective than
medicine from the NHS.

It is a message she is keen to get across, which is why she is so up
for all the publicity she can get.

When I knocked on her door I was the 87th reporter to do so. None has
ever been turned away.

She comes to the door in a her blue dressing gown and gets changed
later. She has been up early working on a new website - - which she hopes to have operational
by Friday. It will further boost her aims to spread the message worldwide.

"I don't smoke cannabis. I just eat it and it's for medical reasons,"
says an animated Patricia. "When I took medication I had so many
side-effects. I was put on Valium in the early days, which just turned
me into a zombie."

The Government feels the force of her wrath many times during our
chat. As do local doctors, the police and the people in the "new stone
houses" in the village. Hypocrites, she claims, who frown on her
activity and yet are "probably smoking it themselves".

Patricia does not eat cannabis to get high. She claims it alleviates
the pains in her back and neck from a car accident on the A69.

Her depression started in 1975 when she found her 14-year-old son
Duncan dead in bed at the Edinburgh restaurant, Zodiac Centre, she

"It was a terrible time for me, terrible," Patricia recalls. "I'm a
chatterbox usually but I just wasn't interested in anything.

"I would sit and stare out of the window all day.

But the worst thing was, I couldn't cry. I actually couldn't cry. I
only found out years later that it was a medical condition."

Patricia's crusade has seen her appear on TV's Richard and Judy -"they
were nice people, but I wasn't allowed to speak about the medicines
that cause the side-effects. I was disappointed with that".

She has been on radio in Germany, Italy, New Zealand and Colombia. But
it has also brought the attention of the police.

She pleaded guilty to a single charge of possessing cannabis with
intent to supply when she appeared before a judge at Newcastle Crown
Court in December.

Patricia was due to be sentenced earlier this month but the hearing
was adjourned until April for psychiatric reports.

"They'll probably think I'm a nutcase," is a phrase Patricia says more
than once during our meeting. Regardless what they think of her, there
is a very real possibility she could go to jail. Not that it matters
to her.

"I would love to go to jail," she says. "Then I could find out for
myself just how nasty things can be for prisoners and see their
quality of life and quality of food.

After three days my aches and pains will come back and I'll prove to
the Health Minister that I was right.

"I don't need expensive drugs. I just need cannabis."

There then follows another of Patricia's rants, which goes on to
include George Bush, the IRA and genetically-modified foods. Patricia,
she keeps telling me, is very political.

If she did go to jail, however, it would be a massive blow for her

Since being in the spotlight Patricia says she has received thousands
of letters of support from elderly people across the country.

Most of the village, she says, are in support of her as well (besides
the people in the stone houses) and she in turn supports them.

The smell of a chocolate cake is overwhelming in her kitchen, where
she has made two.

One is for a 79-year-old local man whose disability means his hands
are painfully clasped together.

The special ingredient in the cake helps.

Patricia is also registered to run as an MP for the Legalise Cannabis
Alliance and has targeted Neath, in South Wales, as a potential

"I'm not bothered about the fame or being well-known," says

"I'm so busy at the moment but I want to get the message

Grandma is on to a winner

Patricia's agent, Katya Shipster, of David Goodwin Associates, said
her client's earnings could provide a nice little wage.

Katya said: "We can't disclose the book deal because of
confidentiality but something like that should do well over Christmas.

"Patricia has finished her life story but we want to take one step at
a time. The documentary is still ongoing but has not been commissioned
by Channel Four yet.

"It is incredibly difficult to say how much money any of our clients
will make. You just can't predict how things will go in terms of books
sales but Patricia should make a nice wage out of it.

"She is very much in demand at the moment."

Notorious drug dealer Howard Marks has sold more than half a million
copies of his autobiography Mr Nice which was first published in 1996.
He is also a regular on the speech circuit.

"Howard does his lectures independently from us so I don't know how
much he earns ," says Katya. "But Patricia has had similar offers and
it is something she is considering.

"We think Patricia could be a success in that".
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