More MS news articles for October 2000

CANNABIS HORRIBILIS

Queen is handed a dope posy

http://www.ic24.net/mgn/THE_MIRROR/NEWS/P1S1.html

13 October 2000

THE Queen was yesterday dragged in to the cannabis debate - after being given a dope plant on a walkabout.

She unwittingly accepted the drug, gift-wrapped in pretty floral paper, from a cheeky supporter of the campaign to legalise pot.

Last night embarrassed royal aides insisted the weed wasn't in Buckingham Palace but admitted its whereabouts were unknown. Pro-pot supporters, meanwhile, were celebrating a huge propaganda coup.

The cannabis was handed to the Queen by Colin Davies - founder of the Medical Marijuana Co-Operative.

He said yesterday: "It was a harmless way of trying to bring to the notice of Her Majesty the ludicrous restrictions on cannabis.

"I was behind a barrier close to the Queen's limo, and as she passed I just shouted 'Your Majesty'.

"She turned round and came up to me with a lovely smile. Her eyes lit up when she saw the pale yellow blooms.

"I said I was from the co-operative but I don't think she realised which co-op it was.

"She said 'Thank you' and gave the plant to a chauffeur who put it in the back of the car."

A Palace spokeswoman said the plant, known as Big Bud and with a street value of around pounds 50, was not on the Queen's plane back to London after her visit to Salford, Manchester, .

Bouquets she receives during engagments are routinely distributed - through police - to local hospitals or old people's homes.

Police dismissed the Queen's spot of pot bother as a "publicity stunt" by campaigners.

But they are to question Colin, 43, of Stockport, who claims he grew the plant himself.

Detective Chief Inspector David Booth, head of Greater Manchester Police special branch said: "There were more important issues for our staff to be concerned with on what was a highly successful day.

"However, arrangements will now be made to speak to Mr Davies about his claims." Colin said last night: "There was a serious message behind this. Many sick people are being denied cannabis - a natural plant.

"We set up the co-operative to supply sick people who benefit from the therapeutic value of cannabis."

The pot debate was stirred at the Tory Party conference two weeks ago when Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe called for a zero-tolerance crackdown. But her plans were swiftly shelved after seven of her shadow cabinet colleagues admitted trying soft drugs in their youth.

Yesterday Liberal Democrat Euro MP Graham Watson called for the legalisation of ALL drugs.

Mr Watson, chairman of the European Parliament's Home Affairs Committee, said: "I do not believe the possession of drugs for personal use should be an offence."

Tory MP David Heathcoat-Amory said: "This is totally irresponsible and it would just create a drugs holocaust."

Cumbria's Chief Constable Colin Phillips predicted legalisation of pot is "inevitable."

Mr Phillips, former drugs spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said he would a turn blind eye if he was at a friend's house and someone smoked a joint.

"I wouldn't say anything and I wouldn't do anything at all," he said.

Mr Phillips described the acquittal last month of multiple sclerosis sufferer Lezley Gibson as a "triumph of the jury system".

Mrs Gibson, 36, was arrested after cannabis was found in her home at Alston, Cumbria, but cleared on the grounds of necessity to prevent pain.

Mr Phillips said: "Even though she was clearly guilty - if you looked at the facts - the jury decided in their wisdom to make a stand and say 'This isn't sensible'."

He added: "I would support the legalisation of cannabis on prescription if there was a proven medical benefit.

"It's inevitable, in due course, that legalisation will happen."

The chief constable believes public opinion and the police service are shifting towards a more lenient approach.

That could be a relief to the Queen, who was on a joint engagement with Prince Philip when she was pictured outside the Lowry Arts Centre with her unwelcome gift.

Police said last night there were no plans to charge her with possessing cannabis, let alone supplying it.

And it's not as though she is the first British monarch to handle the drug.

Queen Victoria was a fan, using it to relieve her period pains.