Pubdate: Wednesday, 06 Oct  1998
Source: Hartlepool Mail (UK) 
Author: Ian Monaghan


A GRANDMOTHER who narrowly escaped jail for drinking cannabis tea to ease
her constant pain today insisted: "It should be legalised".

Pain-riddled Joan Edwards has endured a nightmare 11 months with the threat
of jail hanging over her head since being caught in possession of the Class
B drug.

The 55-year-old suffers from asthma and osteoporosis and found sipping
cannabis in hot water was only thing to offer her relief.

Joan, of Russell Walk, walked free from Teesside Crown Court yesterday
after her story was explained.

Amazingly Joan had also been charged with being a suspected drug dealer
after she had passed a wrap of the drug to an arthritic friend last year.

Now she has called for doctors to be able to prescribe the drug so fellow
sufferers can avoid the stigma of being labelled a criminal - just so they
can get relief from pain.

"I think the law should be changed and that doctors should be able to
prescribe cannabis for medical reasons," she said. "I suffer from
osteoporosis in the back and the legs but the drugs that the doctors
prescribe give me stomach cramps that leave me bent, which brings on my

"I can't smoke cannabis because of my asthma but if I make it in hot water
and drink it I find it it is the best thing for my pain."

Joan is calling for the law to be changed so sufferers in a similar
position don't have to endure similar nightmares.

She has had to cope with the death of her brother as well as having her
home burgled twice - all while having the stress of a jail sentence hanging
over her head.

"The last 11 months have been hell," Joan added. "Even in court my own
barrister asked me if I had made provision for my 13-year-old son because
he believed I was going to be sentenced.

"I think that people in pain who find that taking cannabis is the only
thing to offer them relief should not be treated in this way like a criminal."

Teesside Crown Court heard that police found several pieces of cannabis
worth 44 UKP when they searched her home on November 22 last year.

She admitted two charges of possession of cannabis and one of possession
with intent to supply and was given 18 months probation. 
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Checked-by: Richard Lake