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UK: Cannabis couple walk free in chocolate case

Friday 26 Jan 2007

Three people who supplied thousands of chocolate bars laced with
cannabis to multiple sclerosis sufferers walked free from court today.

Mark Gibson, 42, his wife Lezley, 42, who has multiple sclerosis (MS),
and Marcus Davies, 36, were each given a nine-month jail term, suspended
for two years.

All three defendants argued that the drug eased the symptoms of MS and
believed they had a defence of medical necessity but this was rejected
by a jury last month.

Sentencing today at Carlisle Crown Court, Judge John Phillips said he
accepted their motives were "altruistic", that they had a genuine desire
to help people who were suffering and that no profit was made from the

The judge 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.

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

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

The Gibsons, of Alston, Cumbria, insisted it was a free service and they
made no secret of their activity, with advertisements in both the
regional and national media.

Cumbria Police were also said to have been aware of their operation.

Cash receipts totalling £30,000 were seized but Mrs Gibson told officers
the money had been ploughed back into production of the bars.

Davies, of St Ives, Cambridgeshire, admitted running a website and post
office box for the not-for-profit organisation Therapeutic Help from
Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis,, but had denied any
involvement in making or posting the chocolates.

Before sentence was passed, Andrew Ford, representing Mrs Gibson, said
the protracted legal proceedings had taken its toll on his client.

He said: "She does not agree with drug use but feels this particular
drug was the only medicine that helped her.

"This condition will be with her forever. She is in pain every day.

"As a result of this case she has unfortunately started a course of




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