Feb 18 2002
A MERSEYSIDE multiple sclerosis sufferer who uses cannabis to relieve his condition last night welcomed moves by the Government to make the drug available on the NHS.
Robert "Billy" Gartside, of Aigburth, said it was a "step in the right direction" to the eventual decriminalising of the drug.
Health Minister Alan Milburn is reported to be asking Government health watchdogs to urgently look at two cannabis derivatives to see if they should be made legal.
One is a liquid which can be sprayed under the patient's tongue and the other is a pill.
Both could be available on prescription by 2004 if clinical tests are successful.
Mr Gartside said: "It would help people like me and thousands of others in my position.
"At the moment I am in the hands of an unregulated market as I am taking substances and I do not always know where they come from.
"I would much rather it was available at a doctor's surgery, rather than taking a dosage as and when it seems to work. I would prefer the spray as it has an instant effect.
"If it is clear and visible that cannabis is helping multiple sclerosis sufferers and others, it might cause some people to change their opinion."
Earlier this month, the 33-year-old was fined £25 at Liverpool Crown Court and conditionally discharged after he was found guilty of possessing cannabis.
He had admitted having and using the drug, but denied he was breaking any laws because of its medicinal benefits.
© Trinity Mirror Plc 2002