How Jim “Pinky” Starr is Legally Allowed to Bring Cannabis Into the UK

By Mark Knowles

Good news, in my last update I mentioned meeting U.K. cannabis activist Jim “Pinky” Starr, at the UK Hemp expo last year. Well, it looks like he has found a loophole in the law here in Britain, under article 75 of the Schengen Agreement (http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=C ELEX%3A42000A0922%2802%29%3AE N%3AHTML) Agreement Article 75 1. As regards the movement of travelers to the territories of the Contracting Parties or their movement within these territories, persons may carry the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances that are necessary for their medical treatment provided that, at any check, they produce a certificate issued or authenticated by a competent authority of their State of residence.

Now the only remaining problem is actually allowing U.K. doctors to prescribe medicinal herbal cannabis, and developing a local supply chain. It seems to me that as we’re all part of the E.U. this is going to be impossible to stop. Ireland is now the only E.U. country where this won’t work. However, that won’t last long. The reason that the procedure set out works is because of this:
Pinky went to Amsterdam, where he saw a doctor who gave him his “alternative” treatment, which is two grams a day of Bedrocan (Dutch medpot) www.bed- rocan.nl for 60 days, which he brought back to the U.K. He went through customs with a telephone directory size bag of buds, with nobody there to declare to. I believe Pinky phoned ahead to tell customs he was coming through, therefore, doing everything by the book!

Please note, that another medical cannabis activist went to a Dutch GP prior to Pinky, but because they had not tried other medications they couldn’t try an “alternative treatment.” If they had tried another type of medication first, and found that it didn’t work, then the Dutch GP would be able to prescribe cannabis.

Jim had confirmed with the airport that he had the necessary paperwork to prove it was prescribed medicinal cannabis. His doctor had told him that he was protected under Article 75 of the Schengen Agreement, which states “persons may carry the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances that are necessary for their medical treatment provided that, at any check, they produce a certificate issued or authenticated by a competent authority.”

Bediol has a somewhat lower THC level of approximately 6 percent and a relatively high percentage of the non-psychoactive Cannabidiol (CBD) at approximately 7.5 percent. Bediol is available as Cannabis Flos Bediol granulate. Jim understands from the Home Office that he is entitled to bring in the cannabis as prescribed for him by his Dutch doctor. He can bring in up to three month’s supply at a time if he carries it on his person. Otherwise, he has to apply for an import license and have it shipped to a U.K. pharmacist.

Jim is 36 and is married to Emma, with whom he has two children. Originally from Birmingham, he was a very active man in full time employment until in 1999 when he was diagnosed with a degenerative disease of the spine. In 2003, he was involved in a road accident and suffered terrible spinal injuries. His life seemed hopeless. The cocktail of powerful drugs he was prescribed, including morphine, was debilitating. He couldn’t face a future in which he was turned into a zombie, unable to enjoy any sort of decent life with his wife and children. He admits, frankly, that he was suicidal.

One day in 2004, Jim was upstairs in bed in so much pain and despair that he could barely move. A friend called round to see him and offered him a joint. Half an hour later, Jim made it downstairs for the first time in three weeks. Suddenly, he had hope of the possibility of a future with his family.

Life since then has been a constant game of cat and mouse with the police and drug dealers. Apart from risking arrest and even prison, Jim has also been in danger of being robbed or ripped off by dealers. He’s never wanted to break the law. He told his doctor the relief that cannabis provided and as soon as Sativex became available, even before it was officially licensed, and his doctor prescribed it for him. Unfortunately, the very next day she rang to say that because of licensing and regulation problems she wouldn’t be able to prescribe it again. In fact, Jim did manage to get another prescription for Sativex, but again it was withdrawn, this time because his health authority refused to fund it.

Jim has been an active campaigner for the legalization of cannabis ever since. He has organized a series of marches, protests, and petitions in Dorchester, Weymouth and even Downing Street. Over the last seven years, three MPs—Oliver Letwin, Jim Knight, and Richard Drax—have written various letters in support of him. He is a distinctive figure in his wheelchair, with his dyed beard which has earned him the nickname “Pinky.” Perhaps he has been a little too high profile for the Dorset police who he accuses of persecuting him. Unable to obtain Sativex, or afford the prices and risks of dealers, Jim enlisted the help of a friend to grow his own medicine. Inevitably, in May 2009 the police arrived and Jim was arrested.

In August of this year, Jim was given a two year conditional discharge for growing cannabis, in the Dorchester Crown Court. He is now pursuing a complaint against the police alleging brutal treatment during his arrest. Other complications, allegedly at the police’s behest, have led to the DVLA revoking his driver’s license, although he has never been arrested, charged, convicted, or even stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Jim has become an avid recorder of everything. He uses mobile phones, video cameras, and audio recorders, to retain evidence of every contact with the authorities. He has a video recording of an officer saying to his wife “Look luvvy, whatever he grows up there from now on is up to him. We promise it don’t bother us.” Foolishly, he took the officer at his word. Three weeks after receiving his conditional discharge, the police arrived again.

There were no provisions for transporting him to the police station in his wheelchair. The officers were warned not to lift him by his arms because of his spinal condition. They wrenched him out of his chair by gripping his shoulders and underpants causing anal bleeding due to an existing condition. He was refused a doctor at the station. There was no provision for disabled people, even for his special toilet needs. He was refused access to any of his prescribed medication, or even his special anti pressure sore mattresses.

The following day, he went to the hospital and was diagnosed with torn shoulder muscles. In fact, his spinal column is so delicate that any movement could potentially paralyze him. This is the basis of all his high profile campaigning, and must be well known to the police. Jim now faces another charge of cultivating cannabis and a possible prison sentence.

The Dutch doctor was horrified at the range of highly toxic prescription medicines given to Jim, and prescribed two grams per day of medicinal herbal cannabis. He told Jim that he shouldn’t be using Sativex, as the alcohol in its solution was like pouring petrol on a fire, given his medical conditions.

Jim now seems to have the medicine he needs. He is applying for a Home Office license for the cannabis to be imported to a local pharmacist who can then dispense it to him. He will continue to campaign for the right to grow his own for free. The costs of cultivation at home are minimal compared to the rigmarole of importing from Hol- land, or the massive “Big Pharma” cost of Sativex (http://www.gwpharm.com/). Jim is not the first person to get the medicine they need in this way, but he is the first to go public about it. Many may now wish to follow his example. All we need now is for doctors to have cannabis compliance in U.K.!
These links will also help if you decide to go the same route as Jim Pinky Starr:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/drugs/licensing/personal/
Types of cannabis available and the cost
http://www.cannabisbureau.nl/en/MedicinalCannabis/
http://www.amsterdam.info/health/touristdoctor/