'Cannabis martyr' 'deserves a knighthood' as Echo readers say legalise it

Cannabis campaigner Gary Youds
Cannabis campaigner Gary Youds -Credit:Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo

The debate over whether cannabis should be legalised or not heated up in the ECHO's comments section this week after the release of Liverpool's own 'cannabis martyr' after a year in prison.

Gary Youds, 54, earned the 'cannabis martyr' tag from one of the many judges called to deal with his law-breaking over the years, and has certainly earned it after being jailed several times over possession and sale of the drug, and remaining unrepentant for his crimes.

His most recent spell in jail saw him serve one year of a three year sentence after giving free cannabis oil to a man who was dying. He pleaded guilty to the production of cannabis, possession of cannabis with intent to supply and possession of cannabis in 2023.

READ MORE: 'Chillin' Rooms' owner who was spared jail says he's 'proud' of illegal cannabis café

READ MORE: 'Cannabis martyr' told police he was 'saving the city' after they found his grow

This week he said: "What I've been growing for 20 years has the roots of real change. I feel very strongly about it. I 100% feel like I did the right thing and I would do it again." He added: "Times are changing. The world is changing and I think we will fall behind if we don't keep up with the times."

Laws banning the recreational use of cannabis have been relaxed in certain countries including Canada, Germany, Malta, South Africa, Thailand, and parts of America and Australia. Cannabis remains illegal in the UK and is classed as a Class B drug. The maximum penalty for supply and production of a Class B drug is up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

Mr Youds has high profile people in his corner, including the Liberal Democrats who want to "introduce a legal, regulated market for cannabis.." The political party believe that the UK's "outdated cannabis laws are causing harm".

Comments from readers this week show a range of views that reflect the wider argument about using cannabis and whether it should be legalised.

Dickysam praised Mr Youds by saying: " A courageous man. Sadly people are making millions from the UK cultivation industry aimed at pharmaceutical production (more expensive and less effective). All the while fat cats reap the dividends, people such as Mr Youds will be criminalised for producing safe and effective natural remedies."

Cattyfishy said: "If it helps someone, and if the person wants it, it's nobody's business."

Cannabis campaigner Gary Youds, inside his Amsterdam-style café the Chillin' Rooms in 2020
Gary Youds, pictured wearing a light pink jumper, with his supporters outside Liverpool Crown Court in Derby Square in 2023

However, not all comments fully backed Mr Youds. Amj68 said: "Gary's not a "martyr" at all. He's right about the benefits of cannabis but he ruins his own cause by taking it too far every time."

FriedEggSarnie offered a personal view on cannabis as a painkiller, by saying: " I can't smoke it myself as it induces panic attacks, but I have seen first hand the immediate pain relieving effect and how it can help people in other ways. To deny a dying man pain relief is shameful.

"If you've ever been in chronic pain and had no way of relieving it, you will know how debilitating it is. Gary did the right thing morally. Cannabis affects people in different ways, just like many prescription drugs. UK laws need to catch up with other parts of the world."

EvertonFC4LIFE said: "Hashish is a pain killer for back pain, Gary was giving oil to ease the man's pain." Soltrader said: "It is yet another disgrace for the disgraceful legal system and egregious judiciary.", while Chooch said: "I am certain Gary could do more for my well-being than my GP. Good luck mate."

Eebomb cheered on Mr Youds, by saying: "Keep up the good work Gary. Absolutely right behind you - just like millions of other people." TruthSeeka said: "What a disgrace putting this man in prison, Gary you should be given a knighthood mate for doing the right thing and helping people in their hour of need."

Johnson1967 sees it from another perspective. He said: "Well done you. The government won’t want it to be legalised as they will lose too much money from these pharmaceuticals and people will live longer because cannabis oil is a cure."

What do you think of this case, is Gary a hero in your eyes or a criminal, let us know what your thoughts are in the comments section below.

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