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Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
MS sufferer cleared of cannabis charge
Lezley Gibson says she smokes five joints a day
A multiple sclerosis sufferer was cleared of possessing cannabis after telling a court that she needed the drug to relieve the symptoms of the muscle-wasting disease.

Lezley Gibson had denied one charge of possessing eight grammes of the class-B drug with a street value of around 40 on the grounds that she needed it for medical reasons.

During the four-day trial the jury heard police raided the 36-year-old's home in Alston, Cumbria, in August 1999, where they found cannabis.

The prosecution at Carlisle Crown Court argued that the mother-of-one could not use the defence of necessity because she would not be at risk of death or serious injury from her condition if she did not smoke cannabis.

Supporters cheer

Graham Knowles, prosecuting, told Mrs Gibson: "Your preference is to break the law with no need to do so by buying cannabis from drug dealers because you greatly value the relief that you sincerely believe you get from cannabis.

"It wasn't necessary at any time for you to use cannabis," he said.

Mrs Gibson told the court she started smoking cannabis 12 years ago - three years after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

She had tried steroids, valium, hypnotherapy and acupuncture but none of them helped relieve the symptoms, which include spasms, dizziness and loss of feeling, as well as cannabis, she said.

Mrs Gibson added that she smoked up to five joints a day because it enabled her to have a more normal life.

She said:" It's the best chance of feeling like everybody else.

I would use paint stripper if I thought it would make me well

Lezley Gibson
"I would use paint stripper if I thought it would make me well."

Mrs Gibson wept and her supporters cheered as she was found not guilty after an hour and a half of deliberations by the jury of seven women and five men.

Outside court, with her husband Mark, Mrs Gibson vowed to continue smoking cannabis and called for a change in the law.

She said: "I will continue to campaign for everybody else. There are hundreds of people like me out there."

Mrs Gibson said she intended to throw a party to celebrate the verdict.

She said: "No one in my position should have to be dragged through the courts like this but I am glad it is all over.

"I feel brilliant," she concluded.

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See also:

21 Mar 00 | Medical notes
Cannabis: The debate
02 Mar 00 | Health
Cannabis 'helps MS sufferers'
17 Mar 99 | Americas
Marijuana report sparks debate
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