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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
MS cannabis campaigner raided
Biz Ivol
Biz Ivol takes a stand: "I am not a criminal"
Police have raided a dope-smoking multiple sclerosis sufferer, who featured in our weekly Real Time series explaining how she sent cannabis chocolates to other sufferers.

Biz Ivol, who campaigns for cannabis to legalised for medicinal use, has had her home raided by police.

The Orkney Islander said four officers from Kirkwall Police searched her house last Monday, and took away her cannabis plants, address book and computer.

Biz Ivol, photo by Ken Amer
Biz Ivol first tried cannabis on her doctor's advice
"They were here for more than two hours, going through the house with a fine-tooth comb, but they haven't charged me with anything yet," she told BBC News Online.

Police confirmed that the house was searched, and their inquiries are continuing.

Ms Ivol, 53, uses cannabis to relieve the shakes and pains of multiple sclerosis and sends the surplus free-of-charge to other sufferers around the country.

Not only did the police quiz her about who took her parcels to the post office, she says they also questioned the local post mistress.

'Not a criminal'

In December 1997, Ms Ivol was admonished in Kirkwall Sheriff Court after admitting growing 27 cannabis plants.

Cannabis relieves nausea and eases muscle spasms
Ms Ivol says she is not a criminal. "What makes me cross is that people say it's my own fault for selling drugs. But I've never made a cent from what I'm doing."

Each time she hits the headlines, anonymous supporters from as far away as Ireland and Switzerland send her packages of cannabis seeds through the post.

She grows the plants in her home and, until recently, made cannabis-laced chocolates to send to other sufferers. But demand has grown so rapidly she has handed production over to fellow campaigners Mark and Lezley Gibson in Cumbria.

Biz Ivol, photo by Ken Amer
"When I stop taking it, the difference is frightening"
Ms Ivol, who was diagnosed with MS in 1990, spoke to BBC News Online in May about her fight to get cannabis legalised for medicinal use.

She said then that nothing alleviates the symptoms as effectively as cannabis.

"When I stop taking it, the difference is frightening. I've got uncontrollable muscle spasms - my hand starts banging off the table, my legs fly up into the air - my eyesight goes and I feel ill.

"And I can't tell when I need to go to the toilet without cannabis. I'm utterly and completely incontinent."

Earlier this year Canada became the first country to issue permits for the medical use of marijuana, but a ban remained on recreational use.

In October a House of Commons committee is due to start an investigation of possible decriminalisation of cannabis.

The Orkney Islander who uses pot and sends 'care parcels' to other sufferersPot for pain
Easing the symptoms of MS with cannabis
See also:

21 Mar 00 | Medical notes
Cannabis: The debate
30 Jul 01 | Americas
Canada opens door to marijuana
14 May 01 | Americas
US outlaws 'medical' marijuana
22 Mar 01 | Health
Lords back cannabis use
02 Mar 00 | Health
Cannabis 'helps MS sufferers'
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