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More MS news articles for July 2003

Cannabis should be sold like tobacco, says retired judge

July 7, 2003
Billy Briggs
The Herald

A FORMER High Court judge has called for the legalisation of cannabis and condemned the current law as unworkable.

Lord Prosser, the first Scottish judge to call for cannabis to be legalised, said the sale of the drug should be controlled in the same way as tobacco and alcohol.

His comments came in the wake of the Crown Office's decision to drop its case against Biz Ivol, a 55-year-old multiple sclerosis sufferer who uses cannabis to ease the symptoms of her condition.

Ms Ivol, of Herston, South Ronaldsay, Orkney, admitted distributing the drug in the form of specially-prepared chocolates to be used for pain relief, but pleaded not guilty to supplying the drug on the grounds that she believed she was doing nothing wrong.

The Crown dropped the charges against Ms Ivol, who had threatened to take her own life once the case was concluded, due to her failing health.

Last Wednesday morning, Ms Ivol took paracetamol tablets and was found unconscious by a neighbour at her home. She is now recovering.

Ms Ivol, however, has vowed to attempt suicide again.

The remarks by Lord Prosser, who retired from the bench last year, puts pressure on ministers to change their stance on the possession and supply of cannabis.

He said in an interview with a Sunday newspaper that large numbers of people were using cannabis and that the government's current cannabis laws were clearly not working.

"I have long believed that the law in its present form should be changed. It should be legal to possess the drug and there should be a system of controlled supply similar to that which exists for tobacco and alcohol," he said.

Margo MacDonald, MSP, also called on the Scottish Executive to seek the public's views on whether they believe the cannabis laws should be changed.

However, the Conservatives said that, although there was a legitimate debate with regards to the medicinal use of cannabis the drug should remain an illegal substance.

Copyright © 2003, The Herald