Ex-trucker calls for legal cannabis

DISABLED man John Shiress today made a heartfelt plea for the Government to legalise cannabis for pain relief.The former lorry driver, who suffers from an agonising hip complaint, called for an urgent change in the law after he was sentenced at South East Magistrates' Court for cultivating the drug.

By Amanda Cresswell

DISABLED man John Shiress today made a heartfelt plea for the Government to legalise cannabis for pain relief.

The former lorry driver, who suffers from an agonising hip complaint, called for an urgent change in the law after he was sentenced at South East Magistrates' Court for cultivating the drug.

Five cannabis plants between five and six feet tall were found in his greenhouse and garden, part of an ongoing Operation Crackdown campaign to tackle drugs supply and misuse.

Outside the courtroom Shiress, who suffers from a calcified hip – hardening of the joint, defended his actions and told The Star: "Cannabis should be legalised, especially for illnesses.

"I take up to six Dihydrocodeine tablets a day, a pain relieving drug. When I smoke joints I can get away with taking two tablets because cannabis relaxes and eases the pain.

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"The police arrived at my home one morning with the operational support unit – there were about 20 of them. I don't know what they were expecting to find.

"But the plants weren't hidden. I wasn't trying to disguise the fact I was growing it. It is about time it was prescribed to people."

The 59-year-old also has problems with his right knee and lower back and struggles to walk. Shiress was a truck driver for more than 30 years before he was forced to give up his job because of his condition.

"I will be interested to see what happens when there is a change in the law next year," he said.

He was referring to Home Secretary David Blunkett's plans to re-classify cannabis from a class B to a C drug, putting it on the same level as steroids and anti-depressants.

Shiress, of Felixstowe, argues people with should be able to freely grow the drug for medicinal purposes to prevent fear of being hauled through the courts.

He was speaking after magistrates fined him £70 for growing five cannabis plants at his home in Wadgate Road and £50 for possessing £30 worth of cannabis resin.

Police raided his greenhouse and garden where they found the plants in September this year, prosecutor Ian Pells told magistrates at the Ipswich courthouse yesterday.

It was estimated the plants, if matured, would have had the combined street value of between £600 and £1,000.

Shiress, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to cultivation and a further charge of possession after a small lump of cannabis resin was also found at his home.

The court heard it was a low-grade operation as there was no specialist growing equipment involved.

In sentencing bench chairwoman Jane Fiske, told him: "We have taken into account the cultivation was for your own personal use, unsophisticated and on a small scale. She also ordered him to pay £55 prosecution costs.

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