Cannabis Campaigner To Take Own Life

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Sat Jun 14 01:06:01 EDT 2003


Cannabis Campaigner To Take Own Life
Posted by CN Staff on June 13, 2003 at 11:50:06 PT
By John Ross
Source: Scotsman UK

  A wheelchair-bound cannabis campaigner plans to take her own life with an
overdose of paracetamol and champagne after putting her case to legalise the
drug at a court case next week.

Biz Ivol, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, is already planning her own
funeral and has had a cardboard coffin delivered to her home in Orkney. She
says she desperately wants to end her life because of the crippling pain
from the illness which makes her feel like a prisoner in her own body.

However, she has pledged that she will first of all fight her charges of
possessing and supplying cannabis, which she claims alleviates her
suffering.

Yesterday, her MP said the case highlights the plight of MS sufferers and
hopes this will be the last prosecution of its kind in the UK.

Mrs Ivol, 56, from South Ronaldsay, a long-time supporter of legalising
cannabis for medicinal purposes, was charged following a police raid at her
home in August 2001.

Her trial, which has been postponed several times, is now due to he heard
next Wednesday at a sports centre in Kirkwall, which has better wheelchair
access than the sheriff court.

She has pleaded not guilty to three charges of possessing cannabis,
producing two cannabis plants and being concerned in the supply of the drug
to others. The charges relate to cannabis-laced chocolates which she is
accused of making and distributing to fellow sufferers across the UK.

Yesterday, as a friend assembled the eco-friendly coffin, which arrived in a
flat pack, she said: "I'm going to use it as soon as the court case is over.
I'm too tired now to fight on.

"I feel no-one is doing anything to make things better for people with MS
and that I no longer have any quality of life. I can't do my garden. I can't
knit and I can't sew because my hands are dying. I can't read because my
eyes are going - there's nothing worth staying for anymore on this earth."

She added: "I'm not frightened about what might happen to me. They can't put
me in jail because of the condition I'm in. They can't fine me anything
because I haven't got any money. And I'm already a prisoner, trapped inside
a body that's full of pain and doesn't work anymore."

Mrs Ivol, who says her pain is like barbed wire being dragged through her
spine, began a campaign six years ago for the legalisation of the drug for
medicinal use by people with MS and other conditions. It followed an earlier
court case, when she was admonished after police found cannabis plants
growing at her home.

She said: "I've lost count of the number of phone calls I've had from people
telling me not to give up the fight. But the court case will be my last
stand. I'm fed up with fighting now. It's taken them two years to take me to
court. It's been niggling away at the back of my mind - once it's over, I
know I can't go on any longer."

Her neighbour, Bobby McCutcheon, said friends are devastated by Mrs Ivol's
decision, but understand her desperation.

"It's just so sad to see the coffin waiting for her in the house. She really
has lost all hope, she has no interest whatsoever in being alive," he said.

Last year, David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, relaxed the law on cannabis
possession, downgrading the drug from Class B to Class C.

At the time, Mrs Ivol told The Scotsman the decision made the position "as
clear as mud" and said she was determined to debate the merits of cannabis
use at her trial. Her plight has won backing from Alistair Carmichael, the
Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, and the Legalise Cannabis
Alliance (LCA).

Mr Carmichael said: "This is a tragic case. Biz is just wrung out with a
combination of the disease and the campaign. Hopefully, this will be the
last of these prosecutions. If it were, it would be quite fitting and give
her some sort of comfort and satisfaction. I have told Tony Blair [the Prime
Minister] that it is ridiculous that we make a criminal of someone simply
trying to get relief from pain which is not available in any other way."

Source: Scotsman (UK)
Author: John Ross
Published: Friday, June 13, 2003
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 2003
Contact: Letters_ts at scotsman.com
Website: http://www.scotsman.com/



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