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Dope: A Cure Or A Crime?

This is Gloucestershire, Editorial, 8th April 2006

If it's good enough for Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and David Cameron to use as a recreational drug, why is it wrong for muscular dystrophy sufferer Allan Johnson to take cannabis for pain relief? That will be the question facing a jury when Allan and his cannabis supplier Jeffrey Ditchfield face Gloucester Crown Court to be tried for growing, possessing, and supplying the class C drug.

The pair don't deny their involvement. But they will deny the charges against them because they insist that what they are doing isn't criminal.

Where, they ask, are the victims in this alleged crime? Who is suffering as a result? And on the contrary, who benefits?

Both men have a simple answer to that last question: the thousands of sufferers from muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and cancer who face constant pain and for whom there is no cure.

Yes, they say, there are other methods of pain relief. But marijuana is an organic solution - a cure, not a crime.

Yesterday Allan and Jeffrey asked for the reporting restrictions in their case to be lifted so they could use the press to publicise their cause.

They believe passionately that they should not have to dabble in the cloak-and-dagger world of drug dealing to get the drug they need.

They don't want to support the drug barons of South America, nor the arms dealers of Africa. Nor do they want to cost the NHS millions.

Surely, they say, if cannabis were a prescribed drug, it would save the NHS a fortune, and offer pain relief to thousands.

They have a point. And the eyes of the nation will be watching when the jury sits down to hear their case.

Guilty they may be. But wicked they are not. And the true outcome of their case will lie not so much in the jury's verdict as in the judge's sentence. If they are jailed, the law truly is an ass.

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