Court warning on cannabis for pain

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A man who took part in Government tests using cannabis for pain relief was given a conditional discharge yesterday after he admitted cultivating the drug.

In what was seen as a test case, Andrew Betts, 30, was conditionally discharged for two years but warned by a judge that if he offended again he could face a harsher penalty. Betts pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court to cultivating 45 cannabis plants at his home in Gillingham, Kent. The court heard he suffered from the rare disease familial Mediterranean fever and could legally take large doses of the pain-killing drug morphine.

Penelope Barrett, for the defence, told the court that Betts was not intending to sell the drug, and that by smoking it he could reduce his intake of morphine.Miss Barrett said Betts took part in a study approved by the Home Office in 1994. He was given capsules containing THC, a constituent of cannabis, which reduced his pain.