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ILL DOPE USER IS LET OFF; Cannabis court mercy.


A CANNABIS-smoker made legal history yesterday when magistrates allowed him to continue using the drug on the grounds of his ill-health.

Dad-of-two Brad Stephens, 45, claimed his pipe-smoking of the resin was a "medical necessity" to ease the pain of his crippling spinal condition.

JPs in Carmarthen, west Wales, heard that when Stephens was arrested by police during a raid on his home they discovered 55 grammes of the Class B controlled substance.

Stephens admitted to the court being a regular cannabis user but denied the charge of possession.

He was acquitted at the end of the 60-minute hearing.

Mike Reed, defending, told the court: "Mr Stephens suffers from cervical spondylosis - a degenerative bone disease of the upper spine and neck.

"He is on a heavy dose of morphine and over time the body needs bigger and bigger doses to combat pain.

"Large doses of morphine can seriously damage health so by taking cannabis he reduces his dependency on morphine and the potentially fatal risk.

"In effect, the cannabis is saving his life."

The magistrates found him not guilty but ordered the seized cannabis resin, worth pounds 300, to be destroyed.

Yesterday, the Lord Chancellor's Department confirmed it was a legal first.

Mr Stephens, a former steelworker who retired because of ill health, said: "I'm over the moon. I've been taking cannabis for four years because of my illness.

"I was scared I would be stopped from using the drug - the effects on my quality of life would be devastating.

"I live with my two daughters, aged 10 and 12, and I'm not able to be a good dad to them on large doses of morphine."

A Home Office spokeswoman said possession of cannabis is still an offence - with a maximum jail term of five years.

She said: "It is illegal to possess it - even for medical reasons, although we are supporting research into this."

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: "A lot is left to the discretion of individual police officers."


SMOKER: Mr Stephens
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 10, 2002
Next Article:I'll take ya to pieces.

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