Two year conditional discharge after pleading guilty to producing and possessing cannabis.
The Times : March 24 1998

Richard Gifford, 49, a father of 6 was given a two-year conditional discharge at Nottingham crown court last week after pleading guilty to producing and possessing cannabis. The judge said "Whether this substance should be obtained by prescription is a matter for parliament, but it does seem from a number of cases that appear before me that it is benefit to a number of persons."

Yesterday Gifford pledged to carry on smoking the drug: "While I'm still alive, I intend to carry on using it" he said. His family doctor also backed his use of cannabis in a letter to the judge.

The court heard that police found cannabis plants, some 8ft tall, growing in Gifford's garden in Nottingham.

Gifford said after the case that he first smoked the drug in 1968 after being medically discharged from the Royal engineers because of a spinal disorder. He then contracted hepatitis and in 1996, he underwent a liver transplant. His chances of surviving were put at less than 40%. At the height of his suffering, the former garage owner was smoking up to 20 cannabis joints a day, drinking marijuana tea and even eating freshly picked leaves with his roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding.

I couldn't begin to tell you the amount of pain and suffering I have had to endure, but I was able, once I had the availability of cannabis, to stop using prescribed drugs such as morphine and other strong painkillers which are usually addictive." he said.

Gifford's wife Miriam, a clairvoyant, said she had never touched cannabis but would not hesitate to use this drug if she fell ill. Her husband said he had been buying it on the streets since the police cut down his 12 8ft plants. He has asked for a licence to grow the drug legally or to be able to obtain it on prescription but he was turned down.

Medical experts have claimed that cannabis also brings relief to people with arthritis and MS and stimulates appetites of aids patients.

Paddy Tipping, PPS to Jack Straw, the Home secretary said the government has no plans to decriminalise cannabis "People like Judge Hopkin say the acknowledge there is a valuable medical effect, but there has been no compelling research done to suggest that".

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