A Cumbrian campaigning to legalise cannabis who freely admitted
smoking the drug in a national newspaper is unlikely to be prosecuted.

Mark Gibson, a prospective parliamentary candidate for the Legalise
Cannabis Alliance for Penrith and the Border, was pictured smoking
the drug.

He appeared to be goading the police into arresting him by saying:
"If the police want to arrest me they can but they don't pay any
attention to me anymore."

But despite his frank admission Mr Gibson, of Alston, is unlikely to
face any charges.

A spokesman for Cumbria Constabulary said: "We generally concentrate
on suppliers rather than users. But if someone is committing an
offence and seen to commit an offence, we would take action against
them."

The spokesman added that police wouldn't bring a prosecution on the
strength of a newspaper article.

Mr Gibson, a recreational cannabis smoker, said he was misrepresented
in the article in The Observer.

"I'm certainly not goading the police to come and arrest me," he said.

"It's common knowledge that I smoke cannabis. It is at their
discretion and if they want to come and arrest me they can. But I
certainly wouldn't want them to come to my door and arrest me.

"I am not inciting anybody to break the law. It's down to personal choice.

"I think that if somebody is doing something in their own home and it
isn't harming anyone there is no reason why not."

He added that he wasn't worried by the publication of the picture, a
partially out-of-focus shot showing him smoking a reefer.

Mr Gibson's wife Lezley hit the headlines last year when she was
cleared of a charge of possession of cannabis after a jury found she
was entitled to use the drug to help ease the symptoms of multiple
sclerosis.

Like his wife, Mr Gibson would be willing to fight any charges
brought against him for cannabis use.

"I would not be willing to plead guilty," he said. "I would fight to
the bitter end for my beliefs."

Across the country the police and Crown Prosecution Service are
becoming increasingly unwilling to prosecute for the possession of
cannabis.

Last year, in an exclusive interview with the News & Star and The
Cumberland News, Cumbria's Chief Constable Colin Phillips said he
would not do anything if he was at a friend's house and someone lit
up a joint.

Juries often acquit users such as Lezley Gibson who use the drug for
pain relief, and many first-time users escape with a caution.

But some activists are playing the law at its own game and pushing to
be prosecuted to allow them to plead their innocence under the new
Human Rights Act.

There are at least half a dozen court cases around the country where
activists have refused cautions and deliberately admitted using the
drug in order to test the Act which prevents public bodies such as
the police from unduly interfering in an individual's private life.

A Carlisle man will use the Human Rights Act to defend himself
against drugs charges soon.

Alan Mason, 40, of Stonegarth, is accused of producing cannabis,
possessing the drug with intent to supply and possessing the drug.
All three offences are said to have occurred last summer.

A pre-trial review will be held at Carlisle Crown Court next week.

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on 01228 612300


Newshawk: M Gibson MarkGibson@lca-uk.org http://www.lca-uk.org
Pubdate: Sun, 18 Feb 2001
Source: News & Star (UK)
Copyright: 2001 News & Star
Contact: letters@cumbrian-newspapers.co.uk
Address: Newspaper House, Dalston Road, Carlisle CA2 5UA
Fax: 594088
Website: http://www.news-and-star.co.uk/
Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance http://www.lca-uk.org
Lezley Gibson: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00.n1445.a04.html
Alan Mason: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00.n1629.a02.html
Mark Gibson: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01.n247.a04.html