Man with brain tumour in plea for cannabis amnesty

A DYING man is calling for an amnesty on cannabis for Guernsey’s community.

Cannabis plant (28563542)
Cannabis plant (28563542)

The comments follow a customs search for drugs in his family home.

Manny De Sousa, 38, was diagnosed last September with a stage four brain tumour and was given a few weeks to live. Since then he has been using cannabis to help manage his illness, alongside conventional treatments.

However, tightening border restrictions have limited the availability of cannabis locally, forcing him to use postal importation, which brought him to the attention of Guernsey Border Agency.

Last Thursday, officers searched his home, where he lives with his wife and two children, aged three and six years old. Mr De Sousa was in hospital at the time.

In an unusual move, head of law enforcement Ruari Hardy issued a statement over the weekend, defending the actions of his staff, following a social media post about the incident.

‘I can reassure the community that Law Enforcement have acted both professionally, proportionately and legally while progressing this investigation,’ he said.

Once the staff had full details of the circumstances, he said they had acted with compassion, sensitivity and respect for the individuals involved.

No arrests have been made in connection with the case and none are currently planned.

It is understood the drug involved was cannabis oil, which due to its high THC content is treated as a Class A drug.

Lucia Pagliarone, of Guernsey Drug Strategy Campaign, has been pressing for changes in local cannabis legislation and has been acting as a spokesperson for the De Sousa family during this time.

She is calling for an amnesty on cannabis to help people such as Mr De Sousa, who say they need the drug for medicinal reasons.

‘It is poor people like Manny who are suffering, so he had no option but to order the drug,’ she said.

‘Without it he is certain he is going to die.

‘This is a special case.’

She said the current police stance risked damaging islanders’ faith in local law enforcement.

‘There is harm being caused in our community. Something like this shows that an amnesty is needed,’ she said.

While there have been discussions about medicinal cannabis licences, it is believed none have been granted yet.

‘They’re not following through on medicinal cannabis licences,’ Ms Pagliarone said.

‘We can apply, but then we hit a brick wall.’

She said that Jersey had made progress in this area, while Guernsey was being left behind.

While cannabis oil without THC is now available, she said that was not suitable for cases such as Mr De Sousa’s.

She added that even if people did not believe the drug was helping Mr De Sousa, it was clear he did believe it and that had a big impact on helping his health. She highlighted that Mr De Sousa’s partner, who was not a cannabis user, had seen a big change in her husband when using cannabis.

Since his diagnosis, he has undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In a statement issued on his behalf online, he said he had purchased a THC vape off the internet.

‘I’m already knowledgeable about cannabis and knew this had to be the thing that could help me,’ he said.

‘I was having seizures due to the inoperable tumour and as soon as I managed to illegally purchase some cannabis the seizures stopped. As soon as I can’t access cannabis the seizures come straight back. It’s no coincidence.’

Ms Pagliarone noted that the police ran amnesties on knives and guns, which could kill people, yet there were no options for people with cannabis.

Lockdown restrictions have squeezed out the importation of illegal drugs and she said that the police had been searching the homes of anyone suspected of growing cannabis locally. That had forced Mr De Sousa to turn to postal importation of the drug that he believes was helping him.

It was while he was in hospital and his children had a night away from home that the police arrived at the property.

Ms Pagliarone said Mr De Sousa’s partner was having a lie-in when customs knocked on the door at 7am and started searching the home.

‘She said she was overwhelmed by it.’

Bailiwick Law Enforcement issued a statement following the search.

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