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UK: Suppliers of cannabis chocolates escape jail

Richard Holt

Friday 26 Jan 2007

Three people who supplied thousands of cannabis-filled chocolate bars to
multiple sclerosis sufferers have walked free from court.

Mark Gibson, 42, his wife Lezley, 42, who has MS, and Marcus Davies, 36,
were each given a nine-month suspended sentence.

All three defendants argued that the drug eased the symptoms of the
illness and believed they had a defence of medical necessity.

This defence was rejected by a jury last month but the judge at Carlisle
Crown Court says he accepted that the defendants motives were
"altruistic" and that they made no profit from supplying the drug.

Judge John Phillips said that current sentencing guidelines
substantiated a significant custodial sentence but he accepted there
were exceptional circumstances in this case, although he disagreed that
a conditional discharge was appropriate.

He said: "The conspiracy to supply drugs took place over a number of
years in what was a sophisticated operation in which several kilograms
of cannabis were distributed."

All three were convicted of two counts each of conspiring to supply
cannabis throughout 2004 and until February 2005.

They made and supplied 20,000 "Canna-Biz" bars, each containing around
2g (0.07oz) of the drug.

Customers made a donation to cover costs and had to provide a medical
note confirming their condition.

Outside court, Mrs Gibson said she was "very disappointed" at the
judge's ruling.

She said: "I was devastated when we were found guilty and this decision
has broken me again.

"I still don't think I've done anything wrong. How can it be wrong to
try and help ill people?"

The Gibsons plan to appeal against their conviction.




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