What Happens to Medicinal Cannabis Users When the Police Come Knocking?

Following on from the first in our series of medicinal cannabis case studies, we are taking a look at the story of 26-year-old Steven Dalton from Grimsby, UK. He suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a long-term condition that affects the digestive system, for which he self-medicates with cannabis.

“It’s all to do with stress, I’m a really stressful person,” Steven told me when I caught up with him this week. “Using weed keeps my stress levels down. I smoke it usually but if I’ve got enough I’ll eat a bit as well.”

“When it [his IBS] flares up I get a really painful cramp in my stomach and it sometimes creeps up towards my heart which makes me anxious and causes loss of breath. If I take some weed it all goes away, it eases off.”

Steven’s self-medication with cannabis eventually landed him in trouble with the police after they received a tip-off that he was growing the drug at his mother’s house. “I was growing four plants,” he admitted. “The police came in and I tried challenging them because it is my medicine, y’know? I need it. I didn’t see why they had the right to take people’s property away.”

Police 1

All the cannabis found at the premises was Steven’s personal use. “It was all for me,” he confirmed. “They did try and do me for supplying because I had scales but there wasn’t any actual evidence because it wasn’t true. So I was charged with production for personal use.”

At Grimsby Magistrates’ Court he was sentenced to one year probation and ten drug rehabilitation appointments which he feels was unfair. “I’m not going to stop using weed; it’s a medicine,” he says.

What happens during his drug rehabilitation sessions? “I talk to the counsellor about what led up to me growing the plants,” Steven explained. “I just tell her it all, including my contribution to campaigning for the legalisation of weed [Steven is a member of the North Yorkshire Cannabis Club]. She eventually started writing stuff about that down and said she will look it up online.” Eventually, with six months of the drug rehabilitation left, that part of the sentence was withdrawn and he was no longer required to attend.

The conviction has affected Steven in many ways – he’s since struggled with unemployment which has led to an increase in the stress-related symptoms of his IBS. It’s a vicious circle; the only thing that helps his condition (cannabis) is the offence that was the root cause of his stress. No longer able to grow it, he is forced to buy his green from local street dealers. “I am getting it but I’m getting in debt with it,” he disclosed. “I’ve been pushed into the underground.”

Police 2

Unless you’ve just awoken from a long-term coma or have exiled yourself to a desert for the past decade, you will have noticed that in the UK we are currently experiencing overwhelming cuts to our public services. Westminster Council has just announced plans to turn off all its CCTV cameras in order to save £1million per year in running costs, fire deaths in London have risen by 20 per cent as the result of cuts, and most police forces can’t even afford to fly helicopters anymore. I don’t think I need to point out that the police, courts and probation service could use their resources and time more intelligently than they did in Steven’s case.

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If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact Release.

Simon Doherty
Simon Doherty has written extensively about youth culture for a number of publications including NORML UK, VICE, and Mixmag.

 

Comments

  1. Michelle anne X says:

    if someone reports an offense it is the job for the police to investigate… i think the battle should be against the GRASSes not the police… how inhumane! Reporting anyone for cannabis is such a LOW and direspectful and utterly cowardly thing to do when its a medical user or not… this 2016…they should try investigating the benefits against alternatives.

  2. Emma says:

    Is he for real? I suffer with IBS and have frequent attacks. The pain when it happens is crippling, you know what helps though, Buscopan. The drug that was specially designed for it. Not weed. He’s just a jobless div that likes to smoke weed. Stop knocking people up you loser and do something more productive with your life. All you Daltons are the same. A laughing stock.

    1. MedicalMarijuanaMedicalMarijuana says:

      Hi Emma, thank you for your comment. We appreciate anyone who has an opinion on the topic.

      While some may find it hard to separate recreational use of cannabis with medical cannabis, it is essential that everyone understands the difference. Below, we have listed a few research studies from Universities and Laboratories around the world that conclude the effectiveness of cannabis and cannabinoids in dealing with Gastro-intestinal disorders and their side effects.

      It is fantastic that Buscopan works for you. However, some people find it doesn’t and believe that cannabis helps them deal with the significant pain associated with the illness.

      I hope you take the time to read some of the reports below. Many Thanks,

      http://www.safeaccessnow.org/gastrointestinal_disorders_booklet
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9392925
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15525546
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12505538
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12038810
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11358910

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