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UK: I sold drugs to help the sick, not get rich

Cambridge Evening News

Tuesday 26 Dec 2006

AN EPILEPTIC man who helped supply cannabis-laced chocolate bars for
medicinal purposes has slammed the courts for treating him like a common
drug dealer.

Marcus Davies, of St Ives, has been convicted of conspiracy to supply
cannabis after helping supply the chocolate to MS sufferers, taking
orders and passing them to friends Mark and Lezley Gibson, of Alston,
Cumbria, who made the bars.

However, the 37-year-old claims the enterprise was not for profit, and
insists the courts should not be treating him like the "scumbag drug
dealers" he despises.

He said the cannabis he and his co-defendants used had been grown for
medicinal use, not by criminal gangs, and had been given away to help
seriously ill people.

Between them the trio, who are due to be sentenced next month, sent out
36,000 bars of CannaBiz chocolate to MS sufferers across the country, in
return for donations which were ploughed back into the enterprise.

Carlisle Crown Court heard the three had been involved in a cottage
industry, producing 150g bars containing 3.5g of the drug.

Mr Davies, who uses cannabis himself to control the symptoms of
epilepsy, said he had been "shaken to the core" by his conviction last

He said: "We had a defence during the time that we allegedly committed
this crime, and it was a well-used defence which I believe applied to
common sense and common law - a defence of medical necessity.

"When an ambulance is rushing to a job it is allowed to skip a red light
because it is deemed necessary, but despite everything we know about the
wonderful medical benefits of cannabis the drug laws over-ride
everything else.

"My faith in British justice has been shaken to its core, because even
an idiot could understand our argument, and I am sure the jury could
understand it too.

"But the judge directed them to find us guilty, 12 good and honest
people were told: 'You have to return a guilty verdict and you have no

"I have helped thousands of people over the last five years, and every
night I sleep well knowing I have helped them.

"I have not gained financially from any of this, but I do have a warm
feeling inside which is better than any amount of money.

"This case has left me feeling the court and legal system are warped and
corrupt. The Magna Carta itself says the punishment must not be greater
than the crime, but the only victim here is me.

"The case has cost me £7,500 to fight, and the punishment for the crime
should be a cheque for £7,500, not the prospect of time in prison."

Davies, who has not worked for 15 years because of his own ill health,
said the cannabis they used would have been worth a fortune if sold on
the street, but he and his co-defendants had not been motivated by greed.

He said: "Each bar of chocolate, and remember we sent out 36,000 of
them, had 3.5 grams of cannabis in it, which scumbag drug dealers would
sell on the street for £15.

"That is about half a million pounds worth of cannabis we gave away, and
if we were doing this for money we would be somewhere nice and tropical
now, not freezing to death in England.

"We received £40,000 in donations over the three years from people who
used the product, but that was ploughed back in.

"Mark and Lezley, my co-accused, have been around the world lecturing to
doctors and pharmacists on the benefits of this medicine.

"If it was rhododendron leaves we would have OBEs for our work, instead
we're facing prison.

"I can't divulge exactly where we got the cannabis from, but we have a
network of growers who grow for their own, medicinal use, and supply us
with any surplus. We always avoided scumbag drug dealers.

"Drug dealers' only concern is money, our concern is providing a
quality, organically grown product which helps people who are suffering
a great deal."

As an epilepsy sufferer and diabetic himself, Davies said he had
first-hand knowledge of how effective cannabis could be in controlling
distressing symptoms and pain linked to certain medical conditions.

He said: "I have epilepsy, and cannabis stops me break-dancing - when I
use it I don't have any convulsions at all.

"I am not talking about taking cannabis on a recreational level, I don't
get stoned, I am talking about medicinal amounts. As little as 0.1 of a
gram of cannabis cures the problem. I also have diabetes, with
complications including pain in my legs, kidney disease and blistering
of my retinas - cannabis works a treat helping me cope with the pain. It
is a really wonderful medicine.

"Our clients suffered from MS and they often wrote to tell us how we had
changed their lives.

"I have a letter in front of me which says: 'I slept for the first time
in seven years for four-and-a-half hours without waking in painful
spasms. The change since taking your chocolate has been wonderful, and I
am slowly cutting down on my morphine.'

"The problem, of course, is that anyone can grow this wonderful medicine
in their back garden, and if that is the case how are the pharmaceutical
companies going to make any money?

"The reason cannabis has not been developed as a medicine is that it
will not help the rich get richer.

"We are planning an appeal, but I am worried about what will happen when
we are sentenced - after seeing what I saw in court my faith in British
justice has deteriorated to a fantastic extent.

"We have not hurt anyone or damaged anything, we have done nothing but
help, so I would like a letter of thanks from the Department of Health -
but I don't think that is going to happen.

"I am fearful about what will happen. I am also fearful for the hundreds
of MS sufferers we helped, who now have the knowledge of what this herb
can do for them.

"Their only choice now is to go to drug dealing scumbags, and that is
not acceptable for anyone let alone an MS sufferer, so British justice
has failed them too."

The trio are due to be sentenced on January 26. The maximum jail term
they could face is 14 years.




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