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UK: MS sufferer avoids jail after she tells judge she thought taking Cannabis was OK because Prince Charles talked of its benefits on TV
Friday 28 Oct 2016
Michelle X, famous for her starring role in Channel Five TV documentary "37 years on the dole", admitted to jurors she grew the drugs at her home but said that the drugs law was unjust.
The judge gave Miss X a conditional discharge after she told the jury at Oxford Crown Court that she kept a cannabis factory to self-medicate for multiple sclerosis.
In her defence, the The 49-year-old grandmother said: "In the 1990s I saw Prince Charles on the TV and he was talking to someone who had MS.
"The Prince asked him: 'Have you tried cannabis? I've heard it is good for MS," said Miss X told the court.
"At this point I thought if a member of the Royal Family knows about this plant, I should investigate it further."
Miss X, who receives £150 in benefits a week and is paying off debts, lashed out at the jury after her conviction at Oxford Crown Court, saying: "You are just costing yourselves (by paying my benefits) and I'm just going to keep offending until the law is changed.
""In my 12 years as a full time judge it is the first time I have had to deal with something like this."Judge Ross
"I will go on doing this even if it ends up with me in jail - I am willing to give my entire life for it. I stand by my words 100 per cent," she told the court after defending herself.
The court heard how she lost her job and was wheelchair-bound after she was diagnosed with MS in 1987. She told the jury that her cannabis "medicine" stopped her spasms and allowed her stand before them in court.
Growing the plants
Miss X said she started growing the cannabis plants in August 2014 after she used prescription drugs for 10 years which were cancer-inducing and had "crippling" side-effects.
Jurors heard she had taken part in medical trials and was eligible for cannabis-based medicines approved by the NHS but that were not available in her county.
She asked Judge Ross to jail her because she was facing eviction from her council home in Abingdon, Oxon., over the cannabis growing and could not afford to buy cannabis from street dealers.
The judge however said he would not "martyr" Miss X and gave her a two year conditional discharge, as well as making an order for her to pay £200 costs towards the three day crown court trial.
The court heard the trial, which saw Miss X cross-examine police and a drugs expert, cost £2,800 to stage but Judge Ross told jurors: "It is an unusual case, isn't it? In my 12 years as a full time judge it is the first time I have had to deal with something like this.
"It is not my role and it is not your role to change the law."
Expertise on cannabis
He noted that NHS drugs regulator NICE had approved cannabis-based drugs for prescription for MS sufferers but they were not available for Miss X and added: "Therefore she resorts to the only other course which she feels open to her - she is going to use cannabis."
Earlier in the hearing, the judge said that a forensic scientist with 18 years' experience in identifying controlled drugs "met his match in terms of expertise" when she cross-examined him over his evidence.
"There are many plants that you deal with in this country but with education you learn how to use them with our bodies," said Miss X.
"Yes I was growing what is legally classed as cannabis under a Misuse of Drugs Act from 1971.
"I did not misuse this drug in any form, shape or size."
Miss X and her ex-boyfriend were arrested at her home in Lammas Close, Abingdon, after police discovered the farm on July 2 2015.
The court heard it produced more than £40,000 worth of street value cannabis annually.
Police returned on August 26 2015 after she posted a picture of new plants she grew there while on police bail.
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