Mon 23 Jun 2003
A PETITION in support of multiple sclerosis sufferer Biz Ivol has attracted more than 500 names from across the world in a week.
Mrs Ivol, from South Ronaldsay in Orkney, went on trial last week charged with cultivating, possessing and supplying cannabis, which she says has helped to alleviate the pain of MS sufferers. Mrs Ivol admitted in court that she had made cannabis-laced chocolates which were sent to people with MS, but said she did not think she was doing anything wrong.
Her trial has been continued until next month, but once it is completed she has vowed to take her own life with an overdose of paracetamol and champagne - saying the condition has left her with no quality of life. The Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) set up the petition on its website just prior to the trial going ahead in Kirkwall last week, and by yesterday had attracted 517 names from the UK, America, Canada, Australia, South America and Europe.
Among the people to sign up are a Labour MP, a Conservative councillor, a Green Party candidate, a minister and the smuggler-turned-author Howard Marks. The LCA is sending the petition to the Home Office and Scottish Executive and is challenging all MPs and MSPs to sign it or be "named and shamed".
The Scottish Socialist Party has already tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament seeking support for Mrs Ivol.
In a letter to the justice department, Don Barnard, spokesman for the LCA, said: "Biz has been waiting two years for the case to come to court, and her health has suffered so much that she is now bedridden and her sight has gone.
"The quality of Bizís life is now so bad that she no longer wishes to be alive. Pinochet didnít go on trial because of his alleged ill-health; he was far healthier than Biz and he caused the deaths of over 2,000 people.
"What overriding factors convinced Scotlandís justice department it was in the interest of law and order, public health or national security to bring this case forward?
"[It is] time to stop this nonsense. I challenge all MPs, MSPs and church leaders to sign the petition, or give good reason for not signing."
In signing the petition, Howard Marks said: "I urge you with as much strength and power as possible to save this ladyís life. The prohibition of cannabis has already caused innumerable hardship to millions of people. Please donít force her to make the ultimate sacrifice."
Lawrence Wood, the chief executive of the MS Resource Centre in Essex, said: "I am fully aware of the good work that Cannachoc [a cannabis chocolate product] is doing and the hypocrisy of a system that allows people to drink bleach to see if it helps but denies them a proven treatment." Christopher Jackman, a Conservative councillor in Basildon, added: "Biz Ivol is courageous and righteous, I am proud to support her and the petition."
Others who have signed include Dr Ian Gibson, a Labour MP from Norwich,
Ingo Wagenknecht, a Green candidate for the European Parliament, and the
Rev Ferre van Beveren, from Amsterdam.
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