TRIED CANNABIS AND IT GOT RID OF ALL MY PAIN WITHIN
HALF AN HOUR TO AN HOUR" - THOMAS YATES
Thomas Yates was cleared of producing drugs. Thomas
Yates, branded the prosecution a 'waste of time and
money" arid said the time had come for Home Office ministers
to legalise cannabis for medicinal use.
a former deep-sea diver originally from Luton, admitted
growing the plant and smoking cannabis -but still denied
the offence under the defence he did it out of "necessity".
He said cannabis was the only drug that eased his pain
without unpleasant side effects. Mr Yates said he was
trying to grow a 10-year supply because his wife Andrea,
41, was dying of lung cancer and increasingly needed
his time and support. Court accepted his argument he
needed cannabis to ease his pain and cleared him. After
the hearing Mr Yates, a father of two, said: "All this
has been a waste of time and money. Law needs to be
changed so that people can use cannabis for medicine
prosecuting, told the jury that necessity is not a defence
to the production of an illegal drug. "Mr Yates is a
very sick man and that no doubt will attract a lot of
sympathy," she said. "Mr Yates will in due course, I
anticipate, be saying he had no option but to do what
he did. It is the Crown's case that is not a defence.
We will argue that what Mr Yates did is against the
law and if that if that law need to be changed it needs
to be changed elsewhere."
He said he
had been prescribed a variety of medications by doctors
including morphine, sleeping tablets and anti-depression
tablets. But they had accused severe side-effects, making
him sick, constipated and unable to eat and sleep. Yates
said he had read about the medicinal use of cannabis
in an article in the Guardian newspaper and been advised
to take it by fellow sufferers.
He had started
to cultivate his own cannabis - against his wife's wishes
about five years ago. "I tried cannabis and it got rid
of all my pain within half an hour to an hour," he said.
"The pain had all gone - 95 per cent of it anyway."
He added: "My quality of life was 100 times better."
he was in constant pain, suffered muscle spasms and
had difficulty walking. He said cannabis "worked brilliantly",
made him feel "euphoric" and able to cope. Yates, whose
sister also has MS, said his doctors were aware he was
mitigating, told the jury in his closing speech, they
should make the "common. sense decision". He said: "You
bring common sense to the courts, and that is what I
ask you to bring to this case today. I have no idea
what your views are about cannabis, about people who
use cannabis -and actually it doesn't matter. This is
not a case about legalisation of cannabis. This is not
a crusade to have cannabis made legal in the country.
It is about a man who suffers from a crippling, debilitating,
extremely painful disease, which won't get better, may
well worsen, and may result in the shortening of his
life. This is not a case about a man who grows cannabis
because he wants to party with his friends to get high
for recreational reasons. It is about a man who smokes
cannabis and has grown cannabis because the other available
medications don't have the desired effects. They carry
side He is not doing it to make money. He is not hurting
anybody. He is sitting in his home smoking cannabis
to take pain away to give him. A degree of quality of
life. It is a Catch 22 situation - damned if you do,
damned if you don't"
returned a unanimous not guilty verdict after an hour-and-a-half's
in favour of legalising cannabis said the case should
never have been brought and the drug should now be made
legal. Other groups urged caution; arguing cannabis
was a drug that should not be considered lightly and
which could lead to serious problems for users.
Government has given the go-ahead for research into
the possible medical benefits of cannabis it is still
at an early stage and wholesale legalisation is not
on the agenda.
Office has given permission for trials to take place
using cannabis as a medicinal product and work is currently
under way on cannabis derivatives. We are at that stage
at the moment," a health department spokesman said.
doctor feels it is time the Government stopped dragging
Nottcutt, a consultant in pain management at the James
Paget Hospital in Gorlston said cannabis needs to be
clinically tested as soon as possible. "We need to study
the drug. If there is one message that comes out of
this trial it should be to the bureaucrats in Whitehall
to get their fingers out," he said. "Drugs have to go
through long procedures before they can be licensed
and a lot of paperwork needs to be done. The message
is, get on with it so I and others who are waiting to
do clinical tests can get on with it." Dr Nottcutt said
Yates was not the only one of his patients using cannabis
to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis. He added: "It
(cannabis) is an effective way of managing pain for
a lot of patients with multiple sclerosis and many other
conditions. Many patients suffered so badly from the
side effects of morphine that they would rather have
the pain than take morphine. " Mr Notcutt is a leading
authority on the medicinal use of cannabis and addressed
a House of Lords committee on the subject two years
said the court's decision was unlikely to change too
many minds as most interested parties were awaiting
the results of the Government trials. "I do not think
this decision will open the floodgates as there were
very specific circumstances that were taken into consideration
by the judge and jury and they were very tragic circumstances.
But in the current climate and with the way we are moving
regarding the use of cannabis, I hope it will not be
long before cannabis is studied medically."
said Mr Yates was a "nice man" and he was delighted
at the outcome of the trial. "I could not be happier
for him. It has been a long and very distressing time
for him," he said.
of the Campaign to Legalise Cannabis International Association
said Mr Yates' case should never have come to court:
"Prosecuting an MS sufferer is diabolical and a total
waste of taxpayers' money. At least once a week people
contact us with MS desperate for an alternative to prescribed
medication. The law shouldn't have the right to stop
people using a natural plant how they wish. The medical
properties in cannabis have been known about for so
long now and should be legally recognised."
an official from the UK Cannabis Internet Activists
Group, said: "This is about the fifth trial that has
ended up like this in recent months. The message must
be getting through to the Crown Prosecution Service
that it's just a waste of time and money. The law must
a welfare officer with the South Suffolk branch of the
Multiple Sclerosis Society, added: "We don't want anyone
to break the law. But the laws on cannabis need to be
changed to allow people like Mr Yates to use it."
of Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics. Sufferers from
MS and has used cannabis to ease the pain of her illness
for several years. "Doctors should be able to give letters
to patients using cannabis for medicinal reasons, which
would prevent them being prosecuted," she argued. "People
like us should not be prosecuted. It's a waste of public
money and utterly distressful for the people concerned.
Cannabis has always been labelled a recreational drug
but it has much more value than that."
But a spokeswoman
for AdAction, a national drug and alcohol treatment
service, urged caution over cannabis. "Cannabis as a
drug should be taken seriously and it can create real
problems for users," she said. " We would be misinforming
the public if we were to give the impression it is a
drug with no problems attached." But the spokeswoman
said AdAction did not believe prosecution was always
the answer. "We deal mostly with the sharp end of drugs
and can say that for. Some people criminalising them
is just not appropriate."
for Suffolk police said he could not comment on the
individual case. But he did say: "While cannabis is
illegal we will continue to enforce the law."
CASE PROVES A NEED FOR TRIAL BY JURY
of Mr Yates and his 40 cannabis plants raises the issue
of trial by jury, and its threatened status under measures
proposed by the Home Secretary Jack Straw.
In the case
of Mr Yates the jury found the defendant not guilty
of cultivation of cannabis although the facts were not
in dispute, the trial judge describing his medicinally-motivated
marijuana-growing as "potentially a case of necessity."
Mr Yates not guilty the jury exercised its right to
reach a conclusion in the face of the evidence - in
effect, questioning the justice of the law itself. This
right has been the prerogative of juries for centuries
going back to the time of the Magna Carta, and is an
essential element of our democracy.
seeks to deny the public this basic constitutional right,
by abolishing the jury trial for some 'minor' offences
including shoplifting and drugs offences - cases just
like Mr Yates's.
Ministers routinely say that their aim is to target
the dealers of hard drugs rather than the users of soft
drugs. The figures tell a rather different story. The
lurking suspicion is that, in these times of Performance
Indicators cannabis users (the very people who will
be denied trial by jury) make a soft target.
in the Criminal Prosecution service deemed it - in the
public interest to prosecute this case and putting a
very sick man (their words) and his wife who is dying
of cancer through such a traumatic experience. Especially
when there is case history for not proceeding.
was no victim and no crime. The jury's verdict was another
case of common sense prevailing - God bless you all.
EASES PAIN WITH ONE JOINT A NIGHT
sclerosis sufferer has called for cannabis to be available
on the NHS to help ease the intolerable'' pain of thousands
of people with the illness. The call comes only weeks
after British scientists announced that a substance
in the drug can help sufferers cope with the condition.
53, of Egremont Street, Gleinsford, was diagnosed with
the condition in 1994 and is a self-confessed cannabis
user. He says the drug is the only reliable way to ease
his suffering without causing unpleasant side-effects
and is the only way he can make his life bearable. He
is furious after fellow sufferer Thomas Yates from Lowestoft,
was prosecuted after he allegedly grew cannabis plants
at his home to allow him a constant supply of the drug
to help him cope with the condition.
says cannabis is the only thing that works with immediate
effect and does not leave you feeling sick, drowsy or
lethargic for days after taking it, like many of prescribed
drugs. He said: "MS is an awful condition which affects
around 100,000 people in Britain and I would say around
35% of those use cannabis. It is the only thing that
works. The only way I can describe the constant pain
is that it is like being in a vice that is closing.
I also suffer from spasticity, spasms, my speech becomes
affected and I get attacks of optic neuritis, which
impairs my sight. I smoke one joint a night or take
the drug in my coffee before I go to bed and within
15 minutes I feel my muscles start to relax, the spasms
stop, it helps to control the spasticity. When I get
attacks of optic neuritis it feels as if my eyeballs
are about 15 times bigger than usual but after I have
taken cannabis I can feel the swelling coming down.
Cannabis gives me eight unbroken hours of constant and
East Anglian Daily Times (UK) : Teresa O'Boyle, Eastern
Daily Press (UK) : Brian Farmer, Independent, The (UK)
Brian Farmer, East Anglian Daily Times (UK) : Don Barnard
Yates and his solicitors were not represented by IDMU.