Jun 20, 2003
A disabled woman charged with growing and handling cannabis said yesterday that the drug was a “God given plant” which brought relief from the pain of her crippling multiple sclerosis.
Elizabeth Ivol, 55, of South Ronaldsay, who is wheelchair bound, told Kirkwall Sheriff Court that cannabis was the only drug which numbed the pain of her disease, which she described as being like someone “pulling barbed wire through my spine” reports the Times.
She is believed to be the first person in Britain to be prosecuted for openly using cannabis for medicinal purposes and allegedly supplying it to others in the form of homemade cannabis-laced chocolates.
The case is being followed by campaigners for the legalisation of the Class C drug and Mrs Ivol has threatened to kill herself after the trial because she claims her life will not be worth living without cannabis.
Group such as the Evangelical Alliance however have previously made it clear that whilst cannabis may be part of God's creation, they do not believe that it should be legalised.
Giving evidence yesterday, Mrs Ivol claimed that her former GP had recommended using cannabis after she had tried a long list of legal medication without success.
She said she came up with the idea of developing cannabis chocolates while trying to think of ways to help a non-smoking MS sufferer. She found that combining the drug with animal fat appeared to increase its relaxing effects.
The court was told that Mrs Ivol’s day-to-day life had become unbearable due to the onset of her condition, which was diagnosed in the early 1990s.
“At the moment I feel like somebody is pulling barbed wire through my spine. I have muscle spasms and my eyesight is failing but it has not gone yet. It is very, very painful. I’m completely and utterly paralysed from the neck down, more or less,” she said.
“A nurse comes to get me up between 9 and 10 o’clock and plonks me in the wheelchair, where I sit until about 3 o’clock when somebody comes and puts me back to bed, and that’s it. I can make myself a cup of tea, if my hands are alive, and answer the phone. Usually by 1 o’clock my fingers are paralysed.”
Mrs Ivol said that she had taken prescription medication and tried special diets, but nothing had worked, until she overcame her apprehension and smoked cannabis.
“It got to the point where I felt that nobody was doing anything for MS and when you find something that does alleviate the symptoms you go for it. It was either cannabis or nothing,” she said.
She added that cannabis was “not like a nasty chemical drug; it is a natural God-given plant”. It relaxed her muscle spasms and also acted as an appetite stimulant.
Under cross-examination by Sue Foard, procurator fiscal, Mrs Ivol admitted that she had in fact possessed, produced and supplied cannabis, the charges she has denied.
When Miss Foard asked her why she had not simply pleaded guilty, Mrs Ivol replied that she did not think she was doing anything wrong.
The trial was adjourned until July 2.
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