The THC4MS bust

Law enforcement maybe, justice? no.


Mark and Lesley Gibson - Lesley being an MS sufferer - and Marcus Davise ran THC4MS for a number of years, supplying cannabis in chocolate - known as "Canna-Biz" to MS sufferers. They were busted in 2005 and were found guilty on Friday 16th December. They now await sentencing.

There have been a lot of stories concerning drugs in the media recently, it's clear that the present "zero tolerance" drugs policy is in a total mess; it's both unjust and creating more problems than it solves. Not only are people put at extra risk due to the uncontrolled nature of cannabis, but compassionate people are just collateral damage.

When this government came to power in 1997 it made a point of squashing drug law reform, preferring to breathe new life into the war on drugs. Well, that's certainly what's happened and people with MS being dragged through the courts is only one of the sickening results.

Prohibition - the correct term for the "war on drugs" - means that illegal drugs are not "controlled substances" in any meaningful use of the word "controlled". Recreational and escapist use is supplied by organised crime with a turnover making it the third biggest industry on the planet.

26th January Carlisle Crown Court

Lezley and Mark Gibson and Marcus Davies were sentenced to 9 months suspended for two years at Carlisle Crown Court on January 26th for bringing pain relief to ill people by supplying cannabis in the form of "Canna-biz" chocolate..

A quiet demonstration took place and the court was packed with well-wishers. This trial marks the low point of this disgusting drug war which even drags ill people through the courts.

An appeal is planned.


Well financed and able to defend itself the suppliers of hard drugs - the drugs the government promised to target such as heroin and cocaine - have continued to spread like a cancer through our society. Meanwhile the full force of the law has been directed where it's easy to get results - such as busting THC4MS.

What's happened is people who supplied cannabis for free - in a non-smoking form - to ease pain relief in ill people have been made to go through what can only be desrcibed as a "show trial" in order to demonstrate the law is tough and even medical users will be prosecuted. This is sick beyond belief, but true.

Talk to Frank says:
"Using cannabis to relieve pain is also an offence.
Possession is illegal whatever you’re using it for".

In May last year, the court of appeal ruled "medical necessity" could be no defence for the possession or supply of cannabis as a pain relief, leaving the way open for the police to target medical cannabis users.

These people may have broken a law, but they are not criminals. They stood trial in a place dedicated to "justice", not "law enforcement" - justice has not been done.

Guardian report on the background to all this
>> Is it a crime to want to be well?

image - justice scales

Letter from UKCIA tothe Home Office

The Home Secretary
John Reid

January 7th 2006

Dear Mr Reid

On December 16th 2006 Mark and Lesley Gibson, together with Marcus Davies were convicted of conspiracy to supply cannabis in the form of "Canna-Biz" [1] chocolate to people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis at Carlisle Crown Court.

These ill people were all adults, all provided confirmation notes from doctors and were all fully aware of the nature of the "Canna-Biz" they were supplied with. No fee was charged for the service.

This was an interesting conspiracy given that it was in the public domain for several years, the people concerned made no secret of what they were doing and indeed made every effort to tell the world about it, including the authorities - government, police and many documented NHS Employees. The local Cumbrian police were aware of their activities, a fact which gave some reassurance to the Gibsons that what they were doing was being tolerated.

Many people assisted the THC4MS campaign, the help ranged from providing the cannabis used to make the therapeutic chocolate by home growers to donating funds or other facilities. These people assisted in the way that they did in response to public appeals from the three convicted people.

If this was indeed a conspiracy, it included far more than the three people charged and was in effect aided and abetted by the police.

The Legalise Cannabis Alliance website forum has the names of some 60 people who were proud to assist with the provision of pain relief to ill people. Does the CPS plan to charge these people as well?

This trial and victimisation of these well intentioned people has caused great suffering not only to themselves - Lesley Gibson is an MS sufferer - but also to the many hundreds of ill people they were supplying. The trial has achieved nothing in terms of reducing crime and has not been in any way in the public interest, so why was it allowed to continue?

THC4MS had always made it clear that if a legal form of cannabis were to be made available to MS sufferers they would immediately cease production of their "Canna-Biz", but for years the government refused.

Following the police raids on THC4MS the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke MP for Norwich South bent the law and allowed the "Sativex" spray, which is a whole cannabis medicine to be prescribed by doctors on a "named patient" basis. This can only have been a cynical attempt to deflect criticism. Had he agreed to do this before, as he was asked by the THC4MS campaigners, they would have stopped supplying the "Canna-Biz" and there would have been no need for any court case.

Because of the shutting down of THC4MS and because Sativex is in fact next to impossible to get for most people - each application has to be granted a special licence by the Home Office - hundreds of MS sufferers are now in pain having been deprived of an effective supply of "Canna-Biz".

Withholding pain relief medicine is surely one of the definitions of torture, but that's what this government is doing with this pathetic attempt to look "tough on drugs".

So what of the people left to suffer? Most will probably suffer in silence - these are ill people of course, they're not going to protest. Some will source their own supply of cannabis from street dealers and will now be experiencing the mass contamination with microscopic glass beads. - See the cannabis contamination alert.

The conviction of these people is perhaps law enforcement, but it is not justice.

We call on you to urgently review this situation, to make cannabis available to medicinal users and to stop this persecution of decent, honest and compassionate people.

Derek Williams
http://www.ukcia.org is the website of the legalise cannabis campaigns

Adam Metcalf
UKCIA webteam
Alun Buffry
Legalise Cannabis Alliance

[1] "Canna-Biz" was named after the late Elizabeth "Biz" Ivol, a medical cannabis user and campaigner who was also threatened with the law, but who died an agonising death having been denied her medicine before she had her day in court.

Home Office reply to the open letter from UKCIA

2nd February 2007

Ref T851/7

The Home Office.

Dear Mr Williams

Thank you for your letter of 7th January to the home Secretary about the THC4MS court case and the law relating to the medical use of cannabis. Your letter has been passed to the Crime and Drug Legislation and Enforcement Unit and I have been asked to reply.

You will know that Mark and Lezley Gibson and Marcus Davise were each given a nine-month suspended prison sentence on 26th January with regard to their convictions for conspiracy to supply cannabis in the form of cannabis-laced chocolate bars to multiple sclerosis sufferers. However, it is not appropriate for me to comment upon matters relating to a particular case, especially where there may be an appeal against conviction.

On a general level, the unauthorised supply and possession of cannabis for whatever purpose (recreational or therapeutic) is a criminal offence and any persons engaging in such activity are liable to prosecution whatever their motive for doing so. It is reasonable to believe that they will have some knowledge of the possible consequences of this unlawful activity.

Any arrest, investigation and subsequent prosecution of people who supply or possess cannabis for therapeutic purposes is a matter for the police and Crown Prosecution Service, not the Government, to decide in accordance with the law and all circumstances of the case.

The Government has no plans to review the legal situation regarding the medicinal use of cannabis and, in particular, no intention of legalising the use of cannabis in its raw form for medicinal purposes. However, it recognises that there are people with severe pain and debilitating illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis, who cannot satisfactorily alleviate their symptoms through the use of existing medication.

That is why the Government has said that it would seek Parliament's agreement to make any necessary changes to the law to enable the prescription of cannabis based medicine, for the purpose of relieving pain, but not before the granting of product approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

It would not be appropriate for the government to circumvent or undermine the well-established process attached to the evaluation of the safety, quality and effectiveness of all prospectively prescribable products by the MHRA. It is a process which is designed to protect public health. Doctors must be confident about what they prescribe. In order to protect public health, the Government faces difficulty in making any changes to the law unless and until it is satisfied that the benefits have been formally established by the statutorily recognised means. This position is supported by the British Medical Association.

The company GW Pharmaceuticals have been seeking a licence for their cannabis based medicine, Sativex, but in June 2005 they were refused on the grounds of insufficient efficacy. Pending further clinical trial, there is therefore no early prospect of a prescribable cannabis based medicine, licenced in the UK, becoming available to multiple sclerosis sufferers.

Never the less, Sativex was granted a marketing authorisation in Canada where it has been licenced for the relief of neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis under the terms of a conditional licence. Home Office ministers made clear in November 2005 that imports of Sativex from Canada will be allowed under licence issued by t he Home Office Drugs Branch Licensing Section (here at 2 Marsham Street). It can therefore be prescribed to individual patients under the clinicians personal responsibility.

The licencing system is fully operative. A blanket licence was issued to cover, upon application with the relevant patient details, any doctor wishing to prescribe Sativex, the pharmacist to dispense the drug and the patient to possess it, without the requirement to be individually licenced.

Whether it is a patient or a doctor who first contacts our Licensing Section about the prescribing of Sativex, the Home Office asks for the doctor to supply patient details (name and address) and a brief indication of the clinical requirement for the drug (for example, pain associated with multiple sclerosis etc). This information is then passed to GW pharmaceuticals who will contact the doctor to discuss treatment, suggest prescribing regimes, etc. In some instances, the doctor may contact GW Pharmaceuticals direct in the first instance. In either scenario, all those in the chain (ie doctor, pharmacist and patient) will be covered under the licence.

Regarding the reports of cannabis being contaminated with Glass particles, you will probably know that the Chief Medical Officer issued an emergency alert on 17th January through he public health warning system and a copy of the text is enclosed. This alert has also been disseminated through he FRANK website, the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, the substance misuse practitioner networks and the Association of Cheif Police Officers.


Richard Mullins