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Letter: THC4MS trial (1)

Russell Cronin

Cumberland News

Friday 29 Dec 2006

I sat through the first seven days of the Therapeutic Help from Cannabis
for Multiple Sclerosis (THC4MS) trial, in which Lezley and Mark Gibson
and Marcus Davies were eventually convicted of conspiracy to supply
cannabis (The Cumberland News, December 22).

In fact, they went a lot further than to conspire: actually, THC4MS
helped up to 2,000 MS sufferers to live more normal lives.

Like the jury, I saw three people in wheelchairs with multiple sclerosis
testify to the benefits they derived from CannaBiz chocolate.

A crucial point in the trial came when the arresting officer was shown a
letter from a doctor, confirming a diagnosis of MS in one of the
patients who had asked to be supplied with cannabis chocolate.

The jury was not permitted to see this letter, since it testified to the
medical efficacy of cannabis, which was deemed to be irrelevant.

The following day, the defence brought in another 1,036 of these
letters, which the jury were also not allowed to see.

I wasn’t in court for the judge’s summing up, before the jury were asked
to consider their verdict, and I won’t be able to read a transcript of
what he said until next year, such is the efficiency of Carlisle Crown

I imagine His Honour Judge Phillips, in his last case as the resident
judge at Carlisle, told the jury to disregard the defendants’ altruistic
motives and to ignore the evidence they’d heard about the medicinal
benefits of cannabis.

I suppose Judge Phillips told the jury that they had no choice but to
find the Gibsons and Mr Davies guilty. But I am disappointed that they
complied so meekly.

The law, as amended last summer – after the three defendants were
arrested, but before they were charged – says that medical necessity is
no defence in cannabis trials. However, jurors are not lawyers.

Juries are composed of ordinary people, who can think for themselves and
have a sense of natural justice.

The 12 honest Cumbrians who sat on the jury in the THC4MS case were
presented with an historic opportunity to put compassion before the
letter of the law.

They could have refused to convict the three. To their shame, the jury
took only half an hour to find them all guilty.

Russell Cronin
Peacock St, London




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