Chocolate Bars Laced With Cannabis Were For MS Sufferers
Homemade chocolate bars each containing cannabis with a street value of around £20 were supplied by post to multiple sclerosis sufferers for pain relief, a court heard today. Gift shop manager Mark Gibson, 42, and his wife Lezley, 42, who has MS, both from Alston, Cumbria, and Marcus Davies, 36, from St Ives, Cambridgeshire, “made no secret” of their involvement in such activity to police, Carlisle Crown Court was told.
But the trio deny two charges each of conspiring together to supply cannabis throughout 2004, until February 2005.
Police seized 33 jiffy bags containing “Canna-Biz” chocolate bars from the Royal Mail sorting office in Carlisle on January 25 this year.
The depot’s duty manager alerted officers after one of the packages fell open as it was being sorted, spilling out one of the 150g bars, later found to be each laced with 3.5g of cannabis.
Jeremy Grout-Smith, prosecuting, told the court all the packages had a PO Box in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, as the return address, which was later traced to Marcus Davies.
He also said bar wrappers were printed with a website address of an organisation called Therapeutic Help from Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis, www.thc4ms.org, which was later found to be run by all three defendants.
He added that the website advertises a service supplying cannabis chocolate “for medicinal purposes” but “only requests a donation” in return.
Police raided the home of Mark and Lezley Gibson in Alston on 7 February this year.
Mr Grout-Smith said: “They seized cannabis chocolate bars, labels and packages.
“They also found some machinery for the manufacture of the bars – pots, pans, and a grinder – all to be used in what was really a cottage industry to make chocolate bars impregnated with cannabis.
“When analysed, they were found to contain 3.5g of cannabis each, ground up and distributed throughout the 150g bar.”
A list of 460 addresses to which the bars were being sent were also found at the Gibson’s house.
The court heard Davies’ house in Cambridgeshire was searched by officers on 8 June this year.
Details were found of three bank accounts, registered in the name of Davies’ girlfriend, in to which around £40,000 of cheques had been paid between March 2003 and March 2005.
Mr Grout-Smith said one of the accounts “appeared to pay normal household expenses” but the other two were thought to be used for money related to the cannabis chocolate.
He said: “So this seems to be distribution on quite a large scale and, to some extent at least, the defendants may have benefited financially – although the Crown does not claim this was their main motivation.”
Two sheds containing cannabis plants and equipment to cultivate them were also found at Davies’ home, along with “items connecting him to the Gibsons”, the prosecution said.
Mr Grout-Smith added that Davies told police the cannabis plants were grown for his own use and not to pass on to the Gibsons.
It is alleged they supplied home-made “Canna-Biz” bars by post to patients with multiple sclerosis, a progressive crippling illness that affects the central nervous system and can produce intense pain.
Supplying cannabis, even for medicinal purposes, without proper authority is a criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years’ jail, plus a fine.
In August 2005, the trio were charged with supplying the class C drug throughout 2004, until February 2005.
The defendants are members of a not-for-profit organisation called Therapeutic Help from Cannabis for Multiple Sclerosis (THC4MS).
The trial is expected to last seven days.