Pubdate: Fri, 29 Dec 2006
Source: Cumberland News, The (UK)
Contact:  2007 CN Group Ltd
Author: Russell Cronin
Note: Title by MAP Editor


I sat through the first seven days of the Therapeutic Help from
Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis (THC4MS) trial, in which Lezley and
Mark Gibson and Marcus Davies were eventually convicted of conspiracy
to supply cannabis (The Cumberland News, December 22).

In fact, they went a lot further than to conspire: actually, THC4MS
helped up to 2,000 MS sufferers to live more normal lives.

Like the jury, I saw three people in wheelchairs with multiple
sclerosis testify to the benefits they derived from CannaBiz chocolate.

A crucial point in the trial came when the arresting officer was
shown a letter from a doctor, confirming a diagnosis of MS in one of
the patients who had asked to be supplied with cannabis chocolate.

The jury was not permitted to see this letter, since it testified to
the medical efficacy of cannabis, which was deemed to be irrelevant.

The following day, the defence brought in another 1,036 of these
letters, which the jury were also not allowed to see.

I wasn't in court for the judge's summing up, before the jury were
asked to consider their verdict, and I won't be able to read a
transcript of what he said until next year, such is the efficiency of
Carlisle Crown Court.

I imagine His Honour Judge Phillips, in his last case as the resident
judge at Carlisle, told the jury to disregard the defendants'
altruistic motives and to ignore the evidence they'd heard about the
medicinal benefits of cannabis.

I suppose Judge Phillips told the jury that they had no choice but to
find the Gibsons and Mr Davies guilty. But I am disappointed that
they complied so meekly.

The law, as amended last summer - after the three defendants were
arrested, but before they were charged - says that medical necessity
is no defence in cannabis trials. However, jurors are not lawyers.

Juries are composed of ordinary people, who can think for themselves
and have a sense of natural justice.

The 12 honest Cumbrians who sat on the jury in the THC4MS case were
presented with an historic opportunity to put compassion before the
letter of the law.

They could have refused to convict the three. To their shame, the
jury took only half an hour to find them all guilty.

Russell Cronin

Peacock St, London
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman