MS patient cleared of cannabis possession

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The Independent Online

A Multiple Sclerosis sufferer was cleared of possessing cannabis yesterday, having told a jury she needed the drug to relieve pain.

A Multiple Sclerosis sufferer was cleared of possessing cannabis yesterday, having told a jury she needed the drug to relieve pain.

Lezley Gibson, 36, who was arrested after police found nearly £40 of cannabis in a raid on her house in Alston, Cumbria, said: "It's a brilliant decision, not only for me, but for hundreds of other MS sufferers out there who rely on cannabis to ease their suffering.

"I do not want to be branded a criminal. Cannabis must be made available on prescription for people like me."

The trial at Carlisle Crown Court lasted four days, at the end of which the jury spent an hour and a half deliberating.

Ms Gibson, who said she would continue to smoke cannabis, began taking the drug to ease her pain 12 years ago - three years after she was diagnosed with MS, which attacks the nervous system. Previously, she had been taking steroids, which had made her balloon to 14 stones, she said. She had also tried valium, which made her feel "groggy and stupid" as well as hypnotherapy and acupuncture.

Ms Gibson said she smoked up to five joints a day because they enabled her to have a more normal life. "I would use paint stripper if I thought it would make me well," she said.

Matthew Atha, of the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit, said recent trials using mice had shown cannabis could restore functions as well as relieving pain, when used to treat MS sufferers.

Countless relapses of the illness have left Ms Gibson partly paralysed and with slurred speech, poor vision and loss of balance and feeling.

In March, Thomas Yates, another MS sufferer, was acquitted on charges of cannabis possession, and Colin Davies was acquitted in July, on a charge of supplying the drug.