Pubdate: 23 July 1999
Source: Irish Independent (Ireland)
Copyright: Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd
Author: Peter Beal


THE British government last night faced new calls to legalise the medical
use of cannabis after a man who set up a co-operative to supply the drug
was cleared by a jury in the first case of its kind.

Colin Davies (42), who started growing cannabis in his flat after suffering
severe spinal injuries in a fall, was acquitted at Manchester Crown Court
of cultivating, possessing and supplying the drug after a three-day trial.

The court had heard that Mr Davies, of Brinnington, Stockport, formed the
Medical Marijuana Co-operative with the aim of helping sufferers of serious
and terminalillnesses.

He turned to the use of cannabis after side-effects from conventional drugs
he was taking for his own injuries left him "devastated''.

It was the first prosecution in a British court for the supply of the drug
for medical reasons, although other people have been acquitted for
possession on the grounds of illness.

There was cheering and applause, with shouts of "Thank you'' and "God bless
you'', in court as the jury returned its unanimous verdict.

A Bill from Labour MP Paul Flynn, a long-term campaigner for the
legalisation of cannabis for medical use, is due to be considered in the
House of Commons today but is expected to be blocked by the Government
without debate. A recommendation from a House of Lords committee that
medical use should be allowed was rejected last November by Home Secretary
Jack Straw.

Five days later police raided Mr Davies' flat in Brinnington, where they
found 26 cannabis plants were being cultivated.

Mr Flynn said the verdict "shows the common-sense of the jury in overcoming
an outdated law.'' Mr Davies invited people suffering serious illnesses to
contact his co-operative as he called the verdict a "triumph for genuine
human values''. Last year he was acquitted of possessing the drug after a

A Home Office spokesman said the government would only consider changing
the law if cannabis preparations go through clinical trials. 
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