A LONG-TERM cancer sufferer who used cannabis to relieve pain yesterday walked free from court.
Jacqueline Corris of Connolly Villas, Ennis, Co Clare, had pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing and cultivating cannabis plants contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Garda Francis Brennan told Ennis District Court that during a search of Ms Corris’s home on October 24th, 2011, gardaí found 13 cannabis plants with a street value of €5,200.
Garda Brennan told the court that Ms Corris – who is self-employed and with no previous convictions – admitted she grew the plants for her own use and to treat her own medical condition.
Her solicitor, Joe Chambers, told the court that Ms Corris “is a long-standing cancer sufferer from her early teens and that would be her main problem”.
He said: “Ms Corris has had a very serious medical problem all her life and this has led to numerous operations as a result and the only pain relief she gets is from taking this plant.”
Mr Chambers added: “She accepts that she shouldn’t have done this and has told the guards that she has varied her ways.”
Judge Patrick Durcan had adjourned the case for six months to yesterday and in court yesterday Mr Chambers said Ms Corris had stayed out of trouble and not come to the notice of the Garda in the meantime.
Mr Chambers said the probation report on the case was very positive towards Ms Corris.
Addressing Ms Corris, Judge Durcan asked: “How have the last six months gone for you?” and in response, Ms Corris said: “Very well, thank you.”
Judge Durcan said: “I will strike out the charges and that means you will not have a record of any kind under this legislation.
“You only get a chance like this once in life and I hope that things continue to improve for you.”
Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan, who has campaigned for medicinal cannabis to be available on prescription for cancer and multiple sclerosis sufferers, and others suffering from ill-health, said yesterday: “It was very cruel of the State to prosecute this woman, but she was honest and brave enough to let the court know why she was taking the drugs.”
In a written Dáil response issued to Mr Flanagan yesterday, Minister of State for Health Alex White said he hoped to bring legislative proposals early next year to make cannabis-based medicinal products available on prescription.
Mr Flanagan said: “This should not be taking as long as it is. The Government should hurry up on this as there are people going through hell out there being not able to get the proper pain relief.”
By GORDON DEEGAN