By Emily Ledger
A 55-year-old woman and her partner face up to five years in prison, as they are charged for the cultivation of Cannabis at their home. Lesley Gibson is a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer who lives with her husband in Carlisle.
Medical Cannabis was legalised in the UK in November 2018. However, access to the medicine remains extremely difficult, as it is still not routinely available through the NHS.
Yesterday (Thursday 12th December), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided to proceed with the case, which could see Lesley and Mark Gibson face five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
Their home was raided by police in January of this year, where the plants were discovered. Lesley and Mark Gibson face charges of both possession and cultivation of an illicit substance.
In November, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) released its recommendations on the prescription of Cannabis-based medical products. A section of the recommendations focused on spasticity – a common symptom of Multiple Sclerosis.
The Institute did recommend the use of a CBD:THC Cannabis spray for treating spasticity. However, this was only recommended after other treatments have failed to be effective. What’s more, continued use of the medication is only recommended if the patient shows an improvement of at least 20%.
Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said:
“These guidelines are an important first step, but don’t go far enough. No cannabis-based treatments have been recommended to treat pain, a common symptom of MS.”
Despite NICE’s step to recommend Cannabis medications for Multiple Sclerosis sufferers, many doctors still will not prescribe the medicine, due to a lack of knowledge in the area. Cannabis is also not recommended for pain associated with the condition.
A survey carried out by the CMC recently found that up to 1.4 million people in the UK use illicit Cannabis for pain management. The Multiple Sclerosis Society has also recognised the potential of Cannabis to help manage pain associated with the condition. The charity has been campaigning for patient access to Cannabis since 2017.