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HUNDREDS of multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers fear they may have to turn to drug dealers after police stopped a supply of cannabis-laced chocolates used to ease their pain.
The THC4MS group (therapeutic cannabis for MS) has been sending out free chocolate bars for over ten years to those whose doctors confirm they have the condition.
However the group, based in the north of England, was raided by police recently and equipment confiscated.
The service was a first point of contact for sufferers who saw cannabis as a medicine.
Cannabis chocolates were first made by Biz Ivol in Orkney, who sent them to fellow MS patients. Ms Ivol, who died last year, was charged in 2003 with cultivating, possessing and supplying the drug, although the case was later dropped.
THC4MS began making the cannabis chocolates after Ms Ivol's death, and renamed the product Canna-biz.
Mark Gibson, who runs the service with his wife Lesley, an MS sufferer, told The Scotsman the raid followed a package containing the chocolates bursting open in the post. "We were an open secret. We were sending to people from Orkney to Penzance and were tolerated. But this hiccup got the police interested," he said.
He and his wife were arrested and bailed. Three more people have since been arrested, though no charges have yet been brought.
A Cumbria Police spokesman confirmed five arrests. One woman was later released without charge and the others were bailed until 25 and 26 July for further inquiries.