Saturday, 15 February 2020

Cannabis presciption and court cases in the UK

Recently there have been several interesting and possibly progressive results in court regarding the acquisition of cannabis for medicinal uses since the Home Secretary changed the law to allow cannabis on prescription in 2018.

Since the law was changed, very few people in the UK and with recognised medicinal needs have been able to get prescriptions for cannabis, and when they do it is done privately and at great monthly cost.

Legal cannabis: why only 18 people have been given a prescription in the UK despite the law changing Recently, as a result of legal action in the High Courts in London, Charlotte Caldwel, the mother of epilepsy sufferer Billie Caldwel, secured a major breakthrough in her High Court battle to obtain medicinal cannabis for him on the NHS. The judge was told that a London-based paediatric neurologist is prepared to write the prescription for teenager Billy Caldwell - if his trust gives him the green light.

She wanted a declaration that a GP or clinician can lawfully write prescriptions for cannabis-based treatment under the direction of an expert in epilepsy diagnosis and management. Other experts have already provided an opinion on the benefits of the treatment for Billy. "All that's missing is the doctor to be told he can do that. That seems to be the only impediment," she said.

So it seems that despite the change in law, the issue was that doctors were unable to write the prescription.

In the meantime, Ms Caldwell had travelled abroad to get cannabis oil for his son and illegally imported it to the UK, which could have sent her to prison. Although licenses (a prescription) were legally available, she had been refused.

This reminded me of a case in Norwich back in the 1970’s.
Michael Smith wanted to sell hot dogs from a street stall and was told he would need a license. He applied and was refused. He was told that although Norwich City Council could issue licenses for street trading, they didn’t.

So Michael set up his stall and sold his hot dogs,ensuring all health and safety regulations were fulfilled.

He was arrested and taken to court.

In court he argued that he had tried to buy a license but the council did not issue them, so to be convicted of not having a license would be unjust as it would be punishing him for not doing something that it is impossible to do. He was given a one pound fine.

This was repeated several times, each time he was fined just one pound, until Norwich City Council decided to issue licenses.

At one day people had to buy a dog license to possess a dog, otherwise it was an offence because they could have bought one, but did not. The same for fishing licenses – you cannot be charged with fishing without a license if there are no licenses available, only if there is.

With TV licenses they say it is an offence to watch TV without a license (which is itself arguable) but once again it is possible to buy one so it becomes possible for it to be an offence not to buy one, if you watch TV or even own a TV in working order.

In conspiracy law, one cannot be convicted of conspiring to do something that it is impossible to do.

Many court cases about cannabis involve charges of cultivation without a license when it is a fact that licenses are issued to big companies such as British Sugar Corporation and GW Pharmaceuticals (coincidentally part-owned by prominent Conservative politicians’ husbands) but refused to individuals that apply.
Once again, how can it be an offence to not do something that it is impossible to do?

Another case that attracted attention was that of R v Lezley and Mark Gibson at Carlisle Crown Court.

In this case Lezley, who had previously been supplied on prescription with Sativex, a full-extract cannabis produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, and later it was withdrawn. She then decided it was essential to grow her own to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. Acting on “Information supplied”, the couple were raided by police and found with a few small cannabis plants and home made cannabis chocolate, arrested and taken to court. It took the CPS many months and through several court appearances which were themselves devastating to Lezley’s health, whilst she had no cannabis either.

But when Lezley was allowed a private prescription for cannabis, promising a cost of £700 a month, the CPS decided not to offer any evidence and the charges were dropped and Lezley and Mark declared not guilty.

The prosecution said the couple were now accessing a medicinal form of the drug legally and it would therefore not be in the public interest to continue the prosecution.

Prosecuting barrister Brendan Burke insisted that the couple had broken the law and warned that they would be prosecuted if they did so again.

The Gibson’s charge would have been the cultivation of cannabis without a license which they could not get. Possession of cannabis without a prescription when it had not been possible to get a prescription. Obviously to deny a seriously ill person that can show the beneficial effects of a medicinal plant that it was not legally possible to get, a license (prescription) and then punish for trying to grow their own plants would be unjust.

So long as Lezley gets her cannabis on prescription, albeit expensive and many many times more costly as growing her own) she will not be prosecuted, but if whilst on prescription she also grows her own, she may be prosecuted again.

Weighing that up: in need but unable to get a license (prescription) charges dropped; can get a license but grows ones own, court case.

It sounds more like the Mafia: now you can buy from us at greatly inflated prices we will send round the heavies to punish you if you source it cheaper.

There are a couple of other cases coming to court where people in dire need of cannabis that I they find effective against illness and are unable to get prescriptions or licenses are being dragged through the courts unjustly and it is argued that those prosecutions (in fact the arrests and charges) are unjust and what is certain is that these people and nobody else are not being helped, they are being punished for trying to stay well, even stay alive, without harming or risking others. That would only happen under tyrants.

Pensioner arrested over cannabis possession says he grew plants to 'save his life'

Michelle X convicted of growing cannabis at her home twice

When it comes to the nitty-gritty, many cases of possession or cultivation of cannabis are actually about lack of licenses or prescriptions, they are not about victims. They exist dues to political whim, not Justice and Rights – such cases defy Justice and Rights.

In many cases it is the authorities that are guilty of infringing upon our Rights and making court cases against doing something that the Government is able to allow them to do, in their private lives.

And all at public offence whilst politicians spouses make massive profits from doing the same on a massive scale.


  1. Very well put Alun. I am not sure where I should go from here. It seems clear my home made medicine benefits me. As far as the Medics are concerned there is no treatment. So I assume that overcomes the initial barrier of, 'have tried all other forms of treatment and found them unreliable'. So I assume I now move on to try and get a prescription ? But through my GP or private clinic ? My GP will refer me on I imagine ? I have research done 2018/19 in Canada in this matter that found 'natural cannabis was much more effective treating CKD> (Chronic Kidney Disease) than synthetic. This is what made me try it for myself two years ago. What are people's thoughts?

    1. yes I would suggest trying all out for a prescription and always get a reply in writing. Yes your GP without doubt will refer you on, if he chooses too! you can even call him or her to court as a witness