I'll never give up cannabis, says MS sufferer
Source: News and Star, Carlisle, UK
Date: 4 March 1998
Author: Kelly Eve
I'LL NEVER GIVE UP CANNABIS, SAYS MS SUFFERER
Every time Lezley Gibson lights up she's breaking the law. She's a vital statistic in the growing campaign to legalise cannabis for therapeutic reasons. Here Lezley explains to reporter KELLY EVE why she'll never give up the ganja.
LEZLEY Gibson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 14 years ago and told she would be in a wheelchair within five years.
Today, without a wheelchair or crutch in sight, 33-year-old Lezley believes her healthy condition is down to the success of her own prescribed medicine - cannabis.
Lezley has been smoking cannabis for the last 10 years and smokes up to three joints a day.
She insists she does not get stoned, but the drug, which has been illegal since 1971, relieves her symptoms although there is no medical evidence to prove this.
She said: "Without a doubt I think it is cannabis that has kept me well.
"I am not prepared to stop smoking cannabis so someone can see me being ill.
"Before the cannabis I used to have very severe attacks, but after I started smoking it I have had at worst a mild attack - no loss of speech, sight or use of a limb."
Lezley has no need for the drugs doctors could prescribe her and she does not visit specialists or GPs to monitor her condition.
She had previously been prescribed steroids and ballooned to 14 stones after her release from hospital in 1984.
She said: "I never go to the doctors now or to my specialist. I smoke my pot. I do not bother anybody.
"Most people can go to their doctors and get something, but I can't.
"I feel the Government are depriving me of my medicinal drugs so they should be held responsible somewhere along the line."
Originally from Carlisle, Lezley now lives in Alston with her husband Mark. Her condition and treatment are common knowledge in the town.
Lezley said: "People are being a lot more open now. Two old ladies in my local post office in Alston even said we were doing well."
But the couple live in constant fear of being raided by the police and have been in trouble in the past.
Lezley said: "About eight years ago I got a two-year conditional discharge from Carlisle Crown Court. My husband has been in trouble because of me as well.
"I never even had detention at school. When I was arrested I was so scared.
"I could not believe it. I thought it was a mistake. Why did they want to arrest me? I wasn't doing anything to anyone."
Lezley was told in February 1984 at the age of 20 that she had multiple sclerosis.
Doctors advised her to shelve plans she had made to open her own hair salon, Blitz, on Dalston Road in Carlisle.
But with her family's support she opened the salon and successfully sold it a few years later.
Lezley said: "The symptoms started off with pins and needles for six months. Three months later, I was completely paralysed down the right side of my body. It went on for about three years.
"Then I read something about the benefits of cannabis and I found out as much as I could before I started smoking it."
Lezley is now helping raise the profile of Therapeutic Help from cannabis, the campaign group set up with ex-mayor and former heroin addict Colin Paisley.
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