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UK: THC4MS 3 face jail for helping Multiple Sclerosis sufferers

IndyMedia uk

Wednesday 29 Nov 2006

Three medicinal cannabis activists have waited nearly two years to face
trial for conspiring to supply cannabis chocolate to people with
multiple sclerosis. They have been told they have no defence and yet
refuse to accept they are guilty of anything other than helping
seriously ill people by providing them with effective medicine for which
there is still no legal alternative.

The adage that a good deed never goes unpunished might have been coined
for Lezley and Mark Gibson and Marcus Davies. These three are the people
behind THC4MS, an organisation whose sole purpose is to provide Multiple
Sclerosis (MS) sufferers with life-saving medicine in the form of
chocolate bars containing 2% cannabis by weight. For this so-called
'crime', they are to stand trial at Carlisle Crown Court on the 4th
December, 2006, accused of conspiracy to supply cannabis.

Lezley Gibson, who has MS, and Mark, her husband, were arrested in
February 2005 when police visited their home in Alston, Cumbria and
confiscated a quantity of cannabis and equipment for smelting chocolate.
A full five months later, Marcus Davies, who ran the THC4MS web site and
administered its PO Box, was arrested at his home near Huntingdon. In
August, 2005, the three defendants were eventually charged with
conspiracy to supply cannabis during 2004, until February 2005.

The THC4MS 3 estimate that, over the years since the launch of their web
site in 2000, they sent more than 36,000 bars of their CannaBiz
chocolate to over 1800 bona-fide MS sufferers. Yet they deny having
conspired to break the law. THC4MS scrupulously insisted that their
clients must prove their medical need for cannabis before they could be
supplied with CannaBiz, by supplying a letter of recommendation from
their doctors.

Over the years, THC4MS has received hundreds of direct referrals from
medical professionals who have read about it in the press. The
publication of an article by David Rowan in the Daily Telegraph Magazine
on 22.02.03, for instance, prompted an avalanche of applications. Not
one of the THC4MS 3 has any medical qualifications and yet they have
been of more practical assistance to MS patients in the UK than the NHS.

In May 2005, the Court of Appeal ruled on half a dozen cannabis cases in
which it had been argued that the accused were entitled to a defence of
'necessity' because the drug was needed for medicinal purposes. Cannabis
was more effective than prescribed drugs and did not have their
associated side-effects. The three-judge panel under Lord Justice Mance
ruled that this claim was not proved and that medical necessity could no
longer be a valid defence in cannabis trials.

Throughout the period specified in the charges against them, THC4MS
operated in the conviction that they were fulfilling a vital medicinal
need by supplying an effective medicine to seriously ill people, for
which there was no legal alternative. Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine
developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, a British company, remains unlicensed
in Britain, although it can be prescribed in Canada. As such, for the
past year, Sativex has been available in the UK as an unlicensed
medicine and Lezley Gibson has been receiving a supply.

Its motto, 'from nature, out of necessity', THC4MS has always been clear
about its mission to supply MS sufferers with cannabis chocolate.
Without cannabis, people with MS suffer pain that's like having barbed
wire dragged up and down their spine. Without cannabis, people with MS
can't walk, can't feed themselves properly, and depend more and more
upon carers. With cannabis, they regain some of the quality of life that
the rest of us take for granted. Not only does cannabis alleviate the
symptoms of MS, in Lezley Gibson's experience, it also appears to retard
the development of the disease.

For nearly two years now, the people behind THC4MS have been slowly
dragged through the courts for something that they felt morally
justified and legally entitled to do - and which they did, quite openly,
for five years - but for which they are now being told that they have no
defence in Law. Next week at Carlisle Crown Court THC4MS will invite the
jury to find them Not Guilty of breaking the Law in their conspiracy to
fulfil MS sufferers' right to effective medicine.


• THC4MS is a British medicinal cannabis co-operative based in Cumbria
which dispenses cannabis chocolate bars free of charge to Multiple
Sclerosis sufferers upon receipt of a doctors' note confirming diagnosis
of MS.

• THC4MS worked as a first point of contact for MS sufferers who wished
to use cannabis as a medicine, but who had no access to it.

• CannaBiz chocolate is named in memory of Biz Ivol, a MS sufferer from
Orkney who developed the recipe and who died in September 2004.

• The THC4MS website includes hi-res. logo/graphics at

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