All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for May 2003

Script-writer 'smokes' to ease pain'smokes'%20to%20ease%20pain

May 14 2003
By Sarah Chapman Daily Post Staff

A multiple sclerosis sufferer accused of possessing cannabis told a court he uses the drug to relieve his condition.

Robert William Gartside, 35, is alleged to have been caught twice by police officers with cannabis.

Gartside, of Aigburth Road, Aigburth, has pleaded not guilty to the two charges of possessing a class B drug at Liverpool Crown Court.

Gartside has admitted having the drug, but maintains it is medical necessity for him as he uses it to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Desmond Lennon, prosecuting, told the court that officers found 11.6 grams of cannabis resin at Gartside's former address in Rutland Avenue, Wavertree on August 15, 2001 and on April 15 last year, he was stopped while driving his BMW on Aigburth Road and at the police station produced two pieces of cannabis resin, with a combined weight of 1.25 grams.

The court heard that when Gartside handed over the drugs to the custody sergeant, he said: " That's my medicine."

Gartside, a script-writer, told the court he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in March 1992 and started using cannabis the following May as the drug reduced muscular pain and spasms.

Copyright © Trinity Mirror Plc 2003

MS victim cleared over cannabis use

May 15 2003
By Sarah Chapman Daily Post Staff

A multiple sclerosis sufferer who admits he uses cannabis to relieve his condition was yesterday acquitted of possessing the drug.

Robert "Billy" Gartside was unanimously found not guilty of two charges of possessing the class B drug by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court.

During his two-day trial they heard that the 35-year-old scriptwriter was caught with cannabis on two separate occasions.

Police officers raided his former address in Rutland Avenue, Sefton Park, on August 15 2001 and found 11 grams of cannabis resin on a sideboard.

On April 15 last year, officers stopped Mr Gartside as he drove his BMW in Aigburth Road, Aigburth.

He was arrested and produced two pieces of cannabis resin to the custody sergeant and said: " That's my medicine." Mr Gartside had always admitted having cannabis in his house and smoking it as a medical necessity, but he had pleaded not guilty to both charges.

He was diagnosed in March 1992 with the illness and, although he took the medication prescribed to him by a consultant neurologist, he started using cannabis a few months later and said the drug had vastly improved his condition.

The muscle-wasting illness causes him pain, paralysis and spasms and Mr Gartside has been confined to a wheelchair on three occasions.

He was found not guilty after the jury deliberated for just half an hour.

Desmond Lennon, prosecuting, had told the court that under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, it is illegal for anybody to possess cannabis.

Mr Gartside said the whole process of bringing him to court was a farce.

The court case had been adjourned on four other occasions and the trial cost taxpayers an estimated £9,000.

Mr Gartside said: "I have never denied using cannabis as a medical necessity.

"It was the prosecution who brought these charges and it could have been heard by magistrates, but I pleaded not guilty, so the ends justifies the means."

Mr Gartside added: "I would have been shocked and horrified if I'd have been sent to jail.

"It was always in the back of my mind that I could be found guilty, given that I have never denied using medicinal cannabis.

"I have no plans to stop using it in the near future and, if I get arrested again, it will be a matter for Mersey-side Police.

"I hope it makes the law clearer - MS sufferers should not be made to feel like criminals and should not be treated like criminals."

Copyright © Trinity Mirror Plc 2003