Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Drugs campaigner 'a suffragette'

Patricia Tabram
Patricia Tabram cooked meals laced with cannabis

Cannabis crusader Patricia Tabram has likened her struggle against Britain's drug laws to Emmeline Pankhurst's battle to win the vote for women.

The 68-year-old had already appeared before one Crown Court judge prior to this week's trial in Carlisle.

In May 2004 she was caught with 31 plants and blocks of cannabis valued at 850 at her home.

The former chef said she used the drug to relieve the depression she has suffered since finding her 14-year-old son Duncan dead in bed in 1975.

She also claimed eating the drug helped her combat the aches and pains she suffers following two car crashes.

Bedroom wardrobe

Britain's least likely-looking dealer admitted possession with intent to supply and became a prominent advocate for legalising the drug.

Judge David Hodson, Newcastle's senior judge, said he refused to make her a martyr and handed her a six-month jail sentence suspended for two years when she appeared before him in April 2005.

Suffragettes
Patricia Tabram likens her battle to the suffragette bid

But just five months later, Northumbria Police received a tip-off that she was growing more cannabis.

She was compliant when three officers arrived at her bungalow in the village of Humshaugh, Northumberland, directing them to a bedroom wardrobe where four plants were being nurtured with light and heat.

She also told them about the jars of cannabis powder in her kitchen, and even confessed her freezer was packed with dope-laced curries, casseroles and ice cream - which the police declined to seize because they did not want to deprive her of food.

When asked if she feared going to jail, Tabram, who used to run a restaurant in Leith, Edinburgh, said: "Emmeline Pankhurst had to go to prison three times before women got the vote so I am not going to be worried about it."

After hitting the headlines, she began writing a book - Grandma Eats Cannabis - and appeared on a number of chat shows.

At the 2005 general election, she stood unsuccessfully against leader of the House of Commons Peter Hain on a pro-cannabis ticket.

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