Pubdate: Tue, 12 Dec 2006
Source: Cambridge Evening News (UK)
Copyright: 2006 Cambridge Newspapers Ltd
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


A MAN who supplied cannabis-laced chocolate to multiple sclerosis
sufferers for pain relief today (Tuesday, 12 December) told a jury he
believed the service was legal.

Mark Gibson, 42, told Carlisle Crown Court that Cumbria Police had
given him the impression he would be safe from arrest provided he "put
his head down".

Gibson and his wife Lezley, 42, who suffers from MS, admit they ran a
cottage industry making and posting out more than 20,000 Canna-Biz
bars containing around 3.5gms of the drug to victims of the disease
around the world over the last six years.

But the couple, from Alston, Cumbria, deny two charges each of
conspiring to supply cannabis.

Marcus Davies, 36, from St Ives, who admits running a website and post
office box for the not-for-profit organisation Therapeutic Help from
Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis, denies the same charges.

In his testimony today (Tuesday, 12 December), Mark Gibson, said: "I
had lawful reason for doing what I did.

"I believed I had a defence in law of medical necessity."

He told the court his wife and Davies also understood this to be true
throughout 2004 and the first month of 2005, the period for which the
trio's charges apply.

The website advertising the free Canna-Biz bars and the information
sheets sent out with the chocolate were all carefully written to
ensure they would comply with such a defence, the jury heard.

Gibson insisted cannabis use alleviated the symptoms of MS, as his
wife's experience and medical research showed, and there was currently
no suitable licensed medicine available as an alternative.

The court was also told the Gibsons made no secret of their activities
in the early years, with articles and features on their cannabis
chocolates appearing in the local and national media.

Detective Chief Inspector Bill Whitehead, who was North Cumbria's area
crime manager in 2002, acknowledged his officers had known "in general
terms" what the couple were up to and had met Mark Gibson twice to
discuss the cannabis chocolates.

Today (Tuesday, 12 December), Gibson said his last meeting with Mr
Whitehead at the end of 2002 left him believing the police would not
try to stop him supplying the bars, provided he made his activities
less public.

He said: "I was given the impression that I should put my head down
but continue as I was."

He set up a post office box through Marcus Davies in response. Davies
would forward on bundles of requests for chocolate and donations in
larger envelopes to cut down on the amount of mail the Gibsons received.

The 2002 meeting with Mr Whitehead was the last the Gibsons heard from
the police until they were raided this year, the court heard.
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