MS patient who grew cannabis plants to ease her pain is acquitted of drug charges

Telegraph Reporters
MS patient who grew cannabis plants to ease her pain acquitted of drug charges  - AP

A multiple sclerosis patient who grew cannabis plants to ease her pain has been acquitted of drug charges.

Lesley Gibson, 55, and her husband, Mark, were found not guilty at Carlisle Crown Court after being charged for possession and cultivation of cannabis.

Last January, their home was raided and police confiscated ten baby cannabis plants and three home-made cannabis chocolate bars.

If convicted, the pair would have faced up to five years in prison or an unlimited fine or both. 

But the Crown Prosecution Service said there was no public interest in proceeding with the case after it emerged that Ms Gibson had recently obtained a private prescription for the drug.

Medical cannabis has been legal in Britain for more than a year.

The MS Society estimates that 10,000 MS patients use cannabis to alleviate muscle spasticity and pain but campaigners say only a handful have so far been prescribed the drug legally.

In November, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) approved a cannabis-based treatment for MS called Sativex for those with “moderate to severe” spasticity, which has not improved while taking other treatments, but prescriptions are at the discretion of each local NHS authority.

Patients who can pay for a private prescription can obtain the drug without such constraints.

Ms Gibson, who had been denied an NHS prescription, told The Times that being dragged through the courts “because of having MS” was “cruel”.

She added that the police had raided her house in front of her granddaughter and that she is having to use her credit card to pay £700 a month for a supply of medical cannabis.

Ms Gibson’s legal team intends to ask the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to review its prosecution policy in cases involving people using cannabis to treat illnesses.

Ms Gibson’s solicitor Tayab Ali added: “It can’t be right to prosecute a person who has no choice other than to use medicinal cannabis.

“The law clearly needs to change.”