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Registered: 07/26/04
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Wales' secret cannabis users
    #4091218 - 04/24/05 12:29 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)

Wales' secret cannabis users
Apr 24 2005 icnetwork.co.uk

TODAY we reveal the "respectable" face of cannabis use in Wales.

The illegal drug may be linked with teenagers hanging round street corners smoking joints.

But there is a secret community of cannabis users in Wales - pensioners and people plagued with illness who use the drug for comfort and pain relief.

Among them are a frail 92-year-old pensioner in Cardiff, a former county borough councillor in Swansea and Denbigh and a wheelchair-bound paraplegic.

All three spoke out last night to tell how they are willing to break the law to help make their lives a little easier.

Their stories will shock campaigners who are against legalising the drug.

But the trio insist cannabis is their saviour as they continue to battle the odds on a daily basis.

They receive their drugs weekly via the Rhyl-based medical cannabis co-operative Bud Buddies.

The group is backed by Welsh cannabis campaigner Jeffery Ditchfield, who is standing in the General Election as a candidate for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance.

The 45-year-old Rhyl businessman runs the Beggars Belief shop in the town's West End where he is willing to break the law, selling cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Mr Ditchfield was arrested and charged with possessing cannabis with intent to supply on the day the cafe opened, but was acquitted at Chester Crown Court in January, 2004.

Last night, he said Bud Buddies is helping hundreds of arthritis sufferers across Britain.

"We have more than 300 members who all suffer from terrible ailments and diseases," he said.

"The most asked question for me is, 'Why do you do it?'. The only way I can answer that is to say, 'How do I stop?

"We feel that we cannot sit by and let seriously ill people suffer in pain or have contact with criminal drug dealers to obtain their medicine of choice.

"Realistically, there are only two ways to stop, either cannabis is made available on the NHS or I go to prison. There is no middle way."

Bud Buddies' oldest client is a 92-year-old grandmother, Margaret, who has lived at a residential home in Cardiff for the past seven years.

The frail pensioner has been taking cannabis in capsule form since 1996 to relieve the pain caused by arthritis in her hands and knees.

Margaret, who contacted Bud Buddies 18 months ago, tried cannabis after it was suggested to her by her grandson.

She says her grandson used to buy cannabis for her off the streets before he was mugged at knife-point.

Last night, the Aberdare-born pensioner vowed: "If it was good enough for Queen Victoria, who took it, then it is good enough for me."

Margaret, whose farmer husband died from cancer in 1984, turned to cannabis after suffering side effects from her prescribed medication.

"I found the medication ineffective in controlling my pain," she said.

"I discussed the use of cannabis with my GP and he told me that he had no objection, but he advised me against smoking it. He also explained that he could not prescribe it for me. My grandson made some brownies with cannabis he bought from a dealer in Swansea.

"After I took my first brownie my grandson asked how was the pain in my legs, but I answered, 'What legs?'.

"I did get a little tiddly the first time I tried it. I slept for nine hours."

Although clearly breaking the law, Margaret feels cannabis is the only way to control her pain.

And she says it is safer than cannabis sold on the streets which can contain the animal tranquilliser ketamine, coffee and diesel fuel.

"I now take two capsules of cannabis a night which give me a restful sleep," said Margaret. I like the capsules as they are easy to swallow. Apart from using cannabis, I have never broken the law."

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