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Judge Warns As Cannabis Man Cleared



United Kingdom -- A north Wales man has been cleared of supplying cannabis
to sick people in what may be a landmark case.

Jeffrey Ditchfield, 43, from Rhyl, was found not guilty of the possession
of cannabis with intent to supply after he told a jury at Chester Crown
Court that he had only supplied it to the sick to try to help them.

The shopowner used the defence of "necessity", arguing that the supply of
the drug to sick people was not a misuse under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The Crown Prosecution Service in north Wales said after the verdict it was
the first time it had heard of anyone using such a defence in a supply of
cannabis case.

Judge Elgan Edwards told Mr Ditchfield he should not take it as approval
for what he was doing.

"If you do the same thing again you could be prosecuted again," he said.

"You are an intelligent and sincere man but you do run the risk."

During the trial the court heard that Mr Ditchfield was not involved with
cannabis until a friend with multiple sclerosis said it helped her
condition three years ago.

Bulked out

He then began to research its benefits and discovered that much of what
was being sold on the streets contained very little cannabis, claiming it
was sometimes bulked out with plastic, diesel, coffee, or henna.

He told the court his view on cannabis had changed, and he felt that purer
cannabis should be available to help sick people.

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Ditchfield said he could not have wished
for a better result.

He said he would stop supplying cannabis to sick people once it was
legally made available to them, but in the meantime, he said, he would not
turn his back on them.

He claimed the verdict was a landmark ruling.

Source: BBC News
Website: Home - BBC News
Pubdate: Friday, January 16, 2004
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