Grandmother fined for drug deals

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The Independent Online

A grandmother convicted of dealing drugs after being caught supplying cannabis to a circle of elderly friends has escaped a prison sentence.

A grandmother convicted of dealing drugs after being caught supplying cannabis to a circle of elderly friends has escaped a prison sentence.

Patricia Tabram, 66, developed a late liking for the drug after being introduced to it early last year and began sprinkling it into the pies, casseroles and cakes she baked from her remote bungalow in the village of Humshaugh, in Northumberland.

Startled at the relief it brought to her various aches and pains, and with the zeal of a convert, she began distributing her discovery among her friends, who have an average age of 75. They too reported improvements to their health. But someone detected strange smells coming from Tabram's bungalow and tipped off the police, who investigated and eventually arrested her.

Tabram protested her innocence, explaining that her consumption had been purely for medicinal purposes. The police, though, had other ideas, and after her sentencing at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, said her house "bore all the hallmarks of a sophisticated drug dealer".

The first thing they discovered when they raided her house last summer was a cannabis plant on a hallway table. Another 31 plants were growing in the loft, and £854 worth of skunk cannabis, including 47 eight-ounce wraps, were stashed in her fridge and bedside cabinet. A handwritten "tic sheet" was found in her handbag, containing lists of customers, with the amount sold to them and profit made. Scales and hundreds of resealable bags completed the picture.

The decision to charge Tabram came after taking advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, the police said. Insisting that she was "helping to perpetuate a criminal cycle", the police added in a statement: "Ultimately our message is quite clear - if you deal in drugs you will be targeted and bought to justice."

After a court appearance in December, in which she pleaded guilty to a charge of possession with intent to supply, Tabram has become a cause célèbre for the pro-cannabis campaigners and plans to stand as an MP for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance in Neath. She has written a book, Grandma Eats Cannabis, which she hopes to have published.

Judge David Hodson said he refused to make a martyr of her and gave her a six-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and a £750 fine.

Outside court, Tabram said: "I do intend to continue using cannabis, but I haven't given any to anyone since the day I was arrested. I think it is a better medicine than what you receive from the NHS. But I am no more addicted to cannabis than I am to soap operas. I will continue to go to people's houses and cook for them if people get their own ingredients."

She no longer had need to travel to buy her supplies, she added, as a "young man" now delivered her home and those of her friends.