Apr 17 2002
by Emma Gunby, Liverpool Echo
A MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS sufferer who uses cannabis to ease his symptoms today vowed to continue using the drug despite facing more charges.
Robert Gartside, 33, of Aigburth Road, Aigburth, is facing trial by judge and jury for a second time after he was caught in possession of the Class B drug.
In February, Mr Gartside, who is a scriptwriter, was fined £25 at Liverpool Crown Court for possession.
Today, he said he believed the whole justice system was a joke.
He said: "What kind of society is it where three police officers are sent to pick up a disabled man who is carrying two joints?
"I am going to Crown Court because I want a chance to prove I am not guilty. I use cannabis for medicinal use, if I don't use it then I would literally not be able to walk.
"The law is wrong and this must be shown, I mean what kind of deterrent is fining somebody £25 meant to be.
"This is a huge waste of taxpayers' money."
Mr Gartside's last trial cost the taxpayers of Merseyside £10,000 and this trial is suspected to cost a similar amount.
He was arrested on Monday afternoon and held in custody at Wavertree Road Police Station overnight.
Officers discovered two blocks of cannabis resin when they searched him after stopping his car on Aigburth Road near to his home.
Police had a warrant for his arrest relating to a charge of possession of the drug dating back to last year.
A spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: "We arrested and charged Robert William Gartside after a breach of bail conditions from February 14.
"A warrant was issued by Liverpool City Magistrates and he was due to appear for possession of cannabis."
He appeared before Liverpool Magistrates yesterday charged with possessing the Class B drug.
He was granted unconditional bail and the case was adjourned until June.
Mr Gartside added: "If this case is successful as I hope it will be then I am planning to open a cannabis cafe in Liverpool.
"There are too many people going through the same thing as me and they shouldn't be.
"I won't be blindly obedient to the law, especially if the law is wrong." Robert Gartside's MP called for an end to his cycle of prosecutions.
Riverside's Louise Ellman said: "It is time that this action was stopped. It is a waste of taxpayers' money.
"The Government is changing the approach to cannabis possession and it is wholly inappropriate that scarce public resources are being used in this way.
"The money would be better used dealing with crime, especially violent crime, which blights the lives of so many people on Merseyside."
Liverpool West Derby MP Bob Wareing said: "It does seem a waste of money and effort, particularly given that the cannabis is being downgraded and there is the prospect of a law change.
"There are far more serious issues on Merseyside, such as guns on the streets, than someone who takes cannabis for medicinal purposes.
"The prosecution does seem to be heavy-handed and out of proportion."
Campaigner Chris Davies, North West MEP, said: "I think the people of Merseyside all want to know why it's appropriate to prosecute an ill man instead of using valuable resources and police time to go and catch drunken thugs, violent criminals and muggers."
A spokeswoman for Merseyside Police added: "Possession of cannabis remains
an offence and the police officers who encounter such offences will continue
to act in accordance with their duty to uphold the law and arrest those
who commit such offences."
© Copyright Trinity Mirror Plc 2002