MONDAY JULY 23 2001
BY GILLIAN HARRIS, SCOTLAND CORRESPONDENT
A HOUSEWIFE from Orkney is filling Belgian chocolates with cannabis and sending them to Multiple Sclerosis sufferers around the world.
Biz Ivol, 53, who suffers from MS herself, grows her own supply of cannabis which she makes into a powder and adds to the melted chocolate. She claims that her sweets help alleviate the painful symptoms of MS.
Since embarking on her project Mrs Ivol has had requests for her cannabis chocolates from Finland and the United States. The demand has persuaded her to apply to Orkney Islands Council for a business grant to buy a sweet-making machine and a triple-glazed greenhouse to grow her cannabis plants.
However, Mrs Ivol’s application is likely to run into opposition from critics who claim that the reportedly relaxed approach of the islands’ police force to soft drug taking is making it too easy for islanders to break the law.
There were complaints last year when the procurator fiscal declined to pursue charges against a man from Shetland accused of growing cannabis because a prosecution would not be in the public interest.
Mrs Ivol, who was diagnosed as having MS ten years ago, has already had one run in with the law. Four years ago she was admonished for possessing a cannabis plant.
She acknowledges that in going public with her activities she could now face criminal charges. In growing, using and selling cannabis she is breaking the law. The MS sufferers who receive the cannabis chocolates could also be charged with possession although, in some cases, Mrs Ivol simply sends a copy of the recipe and the recipient has to track down their own supply of cannabis.
Despite this she has carried on using the drug, insisting that without it her illness would be far more difficult to live with.
“If I stop, I notice the difference. I get awful muscle spasms and the pain is horrific. You don’t just sit there stoned talking rubbish. It’s not a big dose, not as much as you would use in a joint.
“No one else is helping us, so we have to help ourselves. Everyone has just kept what they are doing quiet because it is illegal,” she told a Scottish newspaper. Mrs Ivol added that the mix of cannabis in chocolate was a safer way to ingest the drug for people who want to avoid the health risks of smoking. She said that high-quality Belgian chocolate proved the best mixer because it has a low fat content compared with other brands of chocolate.
The campaign for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal treatment is winning support from a growing number of doctors in Britain. Mrs Ivol claims that the tacit approval of many GPs has encouraged MS sufferers who would not normally consider breaking the law to use cannabis.
The Government has licensed GW Pharmaceuticals to carry out research into the efficacy of cannabis-based medicines to alleviate pain but although the initial reports from clinical trials are encouraging, no drugs will be available before 2003 at the earliest.
Mrs Ivol said: “There’s a hell of a lot of difference between drug use and drug abuse. This isn’t drug abuse. I just use it.”
A spokesman for Northern Constabulary
in Orkney declined to comment on an individual cse but said that officers
had an obligation to uphold the law as it stands.
Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd.