Cannabis chocolate woman’s mother pleading for judge to show leniency


Source: Cumberland News, UK
Date; December 29 2006
Author: Chris Story

THE mother of cannabis campaigner Lezley Gibson has pleaded with the judge preparing to sentence her daughter to be lenient, saying: “She was just trying to help people”.

Liz Nicholls, 63, this week spoke of the stress of seeing her seriously-ill daughter give evidence in court before being convicted of conspiring to supply the class C drug.

She has called on the government to change the laws surrounding cannabis and for pharmaceutical companies to perform more detailed research into the drug’s medical uses. Mrs Gibson, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, and her husband Mark produced more than 20,000 Canna-Biz chocolate bars at their Alston home and sent them to others with the condition – so long as they had medical proof.

The couple, both 42, and 38-year-old Marcus Davies, of Cambridgeshire, will all be sentenced by Judge John Phillips at Carlisle Crown Court on January 26. He said all sentencing options remained open, except immediate custody, after a jury found them guilty earlier this month.

Mrs Nicholls, who said her daughter was just using her own experience with the drug and made the bars to help alleviate the suffering of others, pleaded for Judge Phillips to be lenient, fearing she would not be able to handle the pressure of a harsh sentence.

She said: “It made her feel useful again. She felt she was helping other people.

“Mark and Lezley do not feel they were guilty because they were trying to help. I feel the same, but in the eyes of the law they were.

“They did not set out to make money. Lezley turned up for court in a suit from Age Concern. They have no money.”

Mrs Nicholls, of Dalston Road, Carlisle, also revealed it was hard to watch her daughter stand in the witness box and be cross-examined by barristers.

“It was heart-wrenching. I felt so sorry for her,” she said. “I really felt she was doing her best to stay upright and not to cry. They [the jury] were not seeing what we saw for the first four years of her illness before she started using cannabis.”

Her mother says she witnessed a dramatic improvement in her daughter’s condition once she started using the drug to ease the symptoms of MS.

She believes the jury were forced into their guilty verdict because the of the law’s tight constraints and wants the government to take action and change legislation to allow cannabis to be prescribed for medical use. Mrs Nicholls also wants pharmaceutical companies to start using the experience of her daughter and others like her to conduct in-depth research into how the drug helps those with MS.

She added: “We have seen people with MS who have turned to Lezley in a terrible state. Some have had to be carried up her stairs, but they’ve walked back down. We have read some of the letters from people who have said things like ‘you are the light at the end of my tunnel’.”

The wait for her daughter and son-in-law to be sentenced has cast a shadow over the family’s festive celebrations. January 26 is also Mrs Nicholls’ birthday.

She said: “I usually look forward to New Year’s Eve, but after that it is January and I’m not looking forward to it at all.”

During the trial, Mr Gibson said he began making and supplying cannabis chocolate about six years ago after a woman living in the Orkneys became too ill to do it. His wife helped.

The service was funded by donations of cash and cannabis. The police took action after one of the bars burst open in the Royal Mail sorting office in Junction Street, Carlisle.

Mr and Mrs Gibson both stood as candidates for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance at the 2005 general election.