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UK: Chocolate bars laced with cannabis were for MS sufferers, court

Tuesday 05 Dec 2006

Homemade chocolate bars each containing cannabis with a street value of
around £20 were supplied by post to multiple sclerosis sufferers for
pain relief, a court heard today.

Gift shop manager Mark Gibson, 42, and his wife Lezley, 42, who has MS,
both from Alston, Cumbria, and Marcus Davies, 36, from St Ives,
Cambridgeshire, "made no secret" of their involvement in such activity
to police, Carlisle Crown Court was told.

• Couple face trial for chocolate bars 'laced with cannabis'

But the trio deny two charges each of conspiring together to supply
cannabis throughout 2004, until February 2005.

Police seized 33 jiffy bags containing "Canna-Biz" chocolate bars from
the Royal Mail sorting office in Carlisle on January 25 this year.

The depot's duty manager alerted officers after one of the packages fell
open as it was being sorted, spilling out one of the 150g bars, later
found to be each laced with 3.5g of cannabis.

Jeremy Grout-Smith, prosecuting, told the court all the packages had a
PO Box in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, as the return address, which was
later traced to Marcus Davies.

He also said bar wrappers were printed with a website address of an
organisation called Therapeutic Help from Cannabis for Multiple
Sclerosis,, which was later found to be run by all three

He added that the website advertises a service supplying cannabis
chocolate "for medicinal purposes" but "only requests a donation" in return.

Police raided the home of Mark and Lezley Gibson in Alston on 7 February
this year.

Mr Grout-Smith said: "They seized cannabis chocolate bars, labels and

"They also found some machinery for the manufacture of the bars - pots,
pans, and a grinder - all to be used in what was really a cottage
industry to make chocolate bars impregnated with cannabis.

"When analysed, they were found to contain 3.5g of cannabis each, ground
up and distributed throughout the 150g bar."

A list of 460 addresses to which the bars were being sent were also
found at the Gibson's house.

The court heard Davies' house in Cambridgeshire was searched by officers
on 8 June this year.

Details were found of three bank accounts, registered in the name of
Davies' girlfriend, in to which around £40,000 of cheques had been paid
between March 2003 and March 2005.

Mr Grout-Smith said one of the accounts "appeared to pay normal
household expenses" but the other two were thought to be used for money
related to the cannabis chocolate.

He said: "So this seems to be distribution on quite a large scale and,
to some extent at least, the defendants may have benefited financially -
although the Crown does not claim this was their main motivation."

Two sheds containing cannabis plants and equipment to cultivate them
were also found at Davies' home, along with "items connecting him to the
Gibsons", the prosecution said.

Mr Grout-Smith added that Davies told police the cannabis plants were
grown for his own use and not to pass on to the Gibsons.

It is alleged they supplied home-made "Canna-Biz" bars by post to
patients with multiple sclerosis, a progressive crippling illness that
affects the central nervous system and can produce intense pain.

Supplying cannabis, even for medicinal purposes, without proper
authority is a criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of 14
years' jail, plus a fine.

In August 2005, the trio were charged with supplying the class C drug
throughout 2004, until February 2005.

The defendants are members of a not-for-profit organisation called
Therapeutic Help from Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis (THC4MS).

The trial is expected to last seven days.




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