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UK: Cannabis chocolate 'made to ease MS'

Russell Jenkins

The Times On-Line

Wednesday 06 Dec 2006

Multiple sclerosis sufferers around the world swore by the chocolate
bars made at Mark and Lezley Gibson’s gift shop in the Lake District.

The couple sent out about 22,000 of their bars and made no secret on
their website of the special ingredient that made them so popular.

But that ingredient was to lead Mr and Mrs Gibson into the dock at
Carlisle Crown Court yesterday, where both are accused of conspiring to
supply cannabis.

Along with a family friend, Marcus Davies, 36, they set up the campaign
group Therapeutic Help from Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis and on their
website,, offered their “Canna-Biz” chocolate bars, the
court was told.

Mrs Gibson, who suffers from MS, her 42-year-old husband and Mr Davies
made no secret of their campaign to legalise cannabis for therapeutic
pain relief.

They made no charge but there was a request that each “buyer” establish
that they were an MS sufferer and that they make a donation to meet
production costs.

Over a period throughout 2004 and up to February last year about 22,000
of the 150g (5oz) bars were despatched, each one of them laced with 3.5g
of cannabis. A mailing list with 460 addresses was later found by police.

Mr Gibson and his wife, from Alston, Cumbria, along with Mr Davies, from
St Ives, Cambridgeshire, who is said to have operated a post office box
address for the cottage industry, deny the conspiracy charges against them.

Jeremy Grout-Smith, for the prosecution, told the jury that while the
trio might be well intentioned, they had no defence against the charges
which carry a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment.

“To supply cannabis, even if you believe it is doing some good, is not a
defence,” he said.

The court was told that police became involved in January when the duty
manager at the Royal Mail sorting office in Carlisle contacted them
about a package which had spilled open during sorting. Officers seized
33 Jiffy bags containing the Canna-Biz product. Each of the packets
carried a PO box address in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, as the return
address. The wrappers also carried the website address which was later
found to be run by the three defendants.

Mr Grout-Smith said that they were not conventional drug dealers but
believed their actions would help to alleviate the pain of a
debilitating illness. MS is a progressive disease which attacks the
central nervous system.

Officers raided the Gibsons’ home in February, discovering cannabis
chocolate bars, labels, packages and a mailing list.

Mr Grout-Smith said: “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.”

Several months later officers pursued their investigations to Mr
Davies’s home where they found cannabis plants in two sheds. The
householder insisted the cannabis was for his own use.

Details were found of three bank accounts, registered in the name of Mr
Davies’s girlfriend, in which about £40,000 had been deposited during a
two-year period.

At least two of the accounts were thought to be used for money related
to the cannabis chocolate enterprise.

“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.”

During a police interview, Mr Gibson admitted sending 22,000 bars to
addresses around the world. But first they had sought proof that the
recipients were MS sufferers.

The jury was told that Mrs Gibson suffers from MS.

A juror who made it known to the judge that she had a relative in the
family with MS was told this was no bar to deciding guilt or innocence
in the case.

The trial, expected to last seven days, continues.

The facts, man

# Cannabis is derived from Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica, a plant
related to nettles and hops that is thought to have originated in India

# The first written account of cannabis use can be found in Chinese
records dating from 2800BC.

# Herbal (grass, weed, skunk) is the dried flower buds of the plant;
resin (hash, soapbar, black) is the buds formed into a block and then
heated and crumbled before use; oil is by far the strongest form and
made by dissolving, filtering and evaporating the resin

# The main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is
delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC,,2-2488906,00.html

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