MS victim on trial for 'medicinal' cannabis

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

A woman with multiple sclerosis has been put on trial because she was found with cannabis worth £40 when police raided her home. She told them she smoked the drug to ease her suffering.

A woman with multiple sclerosis has been put on trial because she was found with cannabis worth £40 when police raided her home. She told them she smoked the drug to ease her suffering.

Lezley Gibson, 36, is pleading not guilty to possessing the drug, on the basis of necessity. She has suffered from the disease, which viciously attacks the central nervous system, for 15 years.

When police raided Ms Gibson's home in Alston, Cumbria, last August, they found nearly eight grams of cannabis with a street value they estimated at about £40.

Graham Knowles, for the prosecution, told a jury at Carlisle Crown Court: "She doesn't dispute it was cannabis or it was hers. There is also no dispute she was going to use it.

"You may wonder why we are here. If you have cannabis it's a criminal offence and that's the end of the matter. But this is an unusual case. She pleads not guilty because she has a defence of necessity."

When interviewed by police, Ms Gibson told officers she was going to smoke it, the court was told. Mr Knowles said: "Her case is that smoking cannabis gives her relief from symptoms which she doesn't get by other means. For a defence of necessity she must prove it was necessary or at least that she reasonably believed it was necessary for the purpose of preventing death or serious injury to herself."

The prosecution counsel said the court had to decide whether Ms Gibson had a "mixed motive" and did not intend to use the drug solely as a painkiller. "The prosecution don't accept that she has a defence in this case. We don't accept what she did was necessary to prevent death or serious injury."

He said that it was not a case of whether the law was fair, or if it should be changed, but a case of whether the defendant was guilty under the law. Mr Knowles said: "You, no doubt, will have sympathy for her when you hear the evidence about her condition. You would have sympathy no doubt for any person with multiple sclerosis or any similar disease.

"I don't say to you sympathy is unimportant but it is not what the case is about." The fact that cannabis could not be prescribed by any doctor in the country, unlike other controlled drugs such as heroin and cocaine, was not something to be disregarded by the jury.

Ms Gibson's GP, Michael Hanley, told the court how she was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Over the years she has had six relapses, including paralysis and partial paralysis of her limbs, dizziness, loss of balance, slurring of speech and severe loss of sight in her left eye.

Dr Hanley said he could see how cannabis could benefit multiple sclerosis sufferers. "I can see that it would be very helpful as from hearsay of patients it does seem to be able to help their condition."

He said he understood that cannabis could help ease the pain of muscle spasms, a system of multiple sclerosis.

But he added that he had no record of when Ms Gibson began using cannabis, and could not comment on whether it had alleviated her condition.

The case, which is expected to last three days, continues.

Comments