A court in Carlisle, northern England, yesterday acquitted multiple sclerosis patients, Lesley Gibson, 55, and her husband Mark Gibson of possession and cultivation of cannabis.
The Gibsons’ home was raided in January 2019, confiscating 10 early growing cannabis plants and 3 homemade cannabis chocolate bars. While many police forces across the country have decided to discontinue self-cultivation for personal use, particularly when used for medical purposes, the Carlisle court had persisted.
The case weighed heavily on the Gibsons, with Lesley developing sarcoma in the meantime and receiving treatment to eliminate the cancer cells last November.
The defense argued that the Gibsons had no choice but to grow cannabis at home to manage Lesley’s MS because Lesley had been unable to access an NHS prescription, while the cost of a private prescription was prohibitive, £700.
The Gibsons were acquitted yesterday, the court deciding it was not in the public interest to proceed, so Lesley had managed to buy a private prescription for medical cannabis.
The couple indeed , faces up to 5 years in prison or an unlimited fine, or both.
An acquittal does not create jurisprudence. However, it emphasizes that it is not in the public interest to prosecute patients who have no choice but to use therapeutic cannabis for treatment. Lesley’s legal team intends to ask the court to review its policy of prosecuting medical cannabis use.
The MS Society, an association of people with multiple sclerosis, estimates that 10,000 MS patients use cannabis to relieve muscle spasticity and pain, with only a small fraction having been legally prescribed to date.
Ms. Gibson’s lawyer, Tayab Ali, said that “it cannot be right to prosecute someone who has no choice but to use medical cannabis. The law clearly needs to change.