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Coal miner’s cannabis crusade

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Eric Mann: Cannabis campaigner

Eric Mann: Cannabis campaigner

A PEMBROKESHIRE pensioner is on a campaign to have the class B controlled drug cannabis legalised, a campaign, he says, has cost his 50 year marriage. 72 year old, Eric Mann, a former coal miner from Pembroke Dock, appeared this month in Swansea Crown Court after admitting to growing and supplying cannabis and was subsequently given a 12 month suspended sentence after pleading guilty. The judge, Paul Thomas, responded to his claims that the drug was for medical use telling him to ‘find legal pain relief’. However, Mr Mann was unrepentant and stated that he believed the drug should be regulated for medical use. This was not the first time the pensioner had fallen foul of the law having collected a string of convictions over the years including a 9 month suspended sentence in 1997 and a prison sentence in 1999.

He spoke about the effect the campaign has had on his everyday life and, in particular, his marriage: “I have lost my marriage because of it. My missus got fed up and left. That was three years ago. I have been married 50 years this year and now I am going through a divorce. I have got to sell my house and move out. That’s life and it’s not easy. But there you go. My wife, Bridget, had put up with the long campaign for nearly three decades but finally decided she had had enough. The house kept getting raided and being searched. People were talking all the time and she did not like it.” He went on to describe a prison sentence he served back in 1999, saying: “I quite enjoyed it actually.

I went to an open prison with my own room and a key. I helped a young boy to read and enjoyed the company of people. I came out and just got on with my life. They left me alone for about nine years after that.” He went on to talk about his sister’s death from cancer, and his own fight with pain, after having been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis: “That made me determined to fight for its (cannabis) use as a medicine. I’m not screaming about social use. I just want it to be made available as a medicine. She, June, (my sister) was drugged up and lying there in pain and was like that for a year until she died.

It just made me determined to get people to understand cannabis is a medicine. I would have given June the cannabis oil if I could have. It would have stopped her being in pain. It could have given her a better quality of life. That’s what it does for me. I contemplated getting rid of myself because I was in so much pain. It was hard to stand that pain. I was taking medication but it was getting worse.

Then someone said, ‘Have you tried cannabis?’ It did not take the pain away but it was more acceptable and it meant I could get a night of sleep, which I could not do before,” On the people to whom he has supplied the illegal drug, and how he uses it, he said: “They have always benefited. It makes me angry to think people are suffering because of this stupid law. Whatever I do I am going to keep secret. Official information about cannabis is all lies. The problem is that judges and people like that believe it. It worked better than legal medicine for me.

I’ve not taken pharmaceutical medicines since ’92. All I take is my cannabis oil. I don’t have flu jabs or anything. I was not selling it, I was just giving it to people, anyway. I use oil and I mix it with honey. I take a little bit in the morning and some in the afternoon and some at night. I just have it on the end of a tea spoon. I don’t take a lot. I don’t walk around zonked-out all day.

I’m not too bad, I keep OK, but there is going to be a time when I have to go to hospital or a home. And I don’t intend to do either of those. I’ll die before I go in there. I don’t trust doctors because I’ve had lots of problems with them. I’ve lost my faith in the medical profession”. On whether or not this latest conviction would change his approach to the drug he told The Herald: “I’m not frightened of policemen or judges. Britain is not a fair society because it has unjust laws.

However, If I was in the US I would have been sentenced to life in prison. I’m grateful for the place I live in.” Earlier this month experts, however, expressed concern that the use of cannabis was leaving young adults with ‘lungs of 80-year-olds’, and that the drug was not as benign as some would have people believe. The findings came from a Bangor University study that found some hospital patients in Gwynedd had accelerated forms of emphysema in as early an age group as the 30’s, and they went on to state that they believed lungs became damaged at a faster rate when cannabis is mixed with tobacco.

Dr Damian Mckeon, a consultant in respiratory medicine at Ysbyty Gwynedd and honorary senior lecturer at Banger University, said: “We are seeing young people on the wards with lungs of 80 year olds after less than a decade of smoking cannabis and tobacco. Our study was in a rural region of north Wales but we believe these cases may represent the tip of the iceberg.” In October of 2014 Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, had called for a change in direction on cannabis laws asking for a focus on treatment rather than punishment, although the Government has remained steadfast in its drugs policy, that it said, would not change

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Permit applications open for Tenby pedestrianisation scheme

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is now accepting applications for vehicle access during this year’s Pedestrianisation of Tenby.

The scheme, which is due to start on Monday, July 5 and conclude on Friday, September 10, will again see the walled town divided into three ‘zones’, each having varying degrees of vehicle access.

Whilst all necessary plans are being put in place for it to start and finish on the above dates, the scheme will remain under constant review in light of Government guidance relating to Covid-19, and the Council will provide any updates as necessary.

Possession of an ‘access permit’ does not provide any exemption from Government restrictions, and any regulations relating to travel and the occupation of holiday accommodation or second homes must be observed at all times.

Following the success of last year, the permit application process will continue online, with paper application forms and guidance notes no longer being delivered to residents and businesses.

The application form and guidance notes are available from pembrokeshire.gov.uk/tenby-pedestrianisation

Residents and business within Tenby are encouraged to complete the application process as soon as possible, to ensure that there is sufficient time for the application to be processed.

Permits will be issued approximately 7-10 days prior to the start of the scheme.

For enquiries, e-mail tenby.pedestrian@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

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Join the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Panel as an independent member

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THE Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel is looking for two members to join them in their work to support and challenge the Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Panel is made of up of members nominated by Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys county councils along with at least two independent members.

Opportunities have now arisen for two independent members to join the Panel and carry out key statutory roles that will support the Commissioner exercise his role effectively.

Members will be expected to attend and take part in regular meetings and take part in decision making, creating reports and making recommendations to the Commissioner.

They will review the Commissioner’s annual draft Police and Crime Plan and annual draft budget, review and scrutinise his decisions and actions, and if necessary review the proposed appointment or removal of the Chief Constable and other senior police force appointments.

Applicants will need to demonstrate that they can take a balanced and objective approach in supporting the Panel and the Commissioner, make strategic and well-informed decisions, and interpret and question financial, statistical and performance related information.

They will also need to be able to act as a ‘critical friend’, challenging views or proposals for change constructively.

Applications close on May 31, and appointments to the Panel will be made until October 31, 2024. 

For further information, visit www.dppoliceandcrimepanel.wales

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Successful Fire Service and Health Board partnership to enhance COVID-19 vaccine roll out comes to end

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TUESDAY 11 May 2021 marked the end of a hugely successful partnership between Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and Hywel Dda University Health Board, initiated to enhance the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine to the communities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

Since February, Community Safety Staff from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have transported 125 passengers over 9450 miles to ensure they were able to receive their COVID-19 vaccination.

Chris Davies, Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “Recognising the configuration of our Service, the areas we cover and indeed the people we employee, this seemed an ideal opportunity for us to widen our response to the pandemic and support our partners in safeguarding our communities.

“Whilst we already collaborate with the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, this opportunity enabled us to expand our assistance further within the health arena. This partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board was the first of its kind for Fire and Rescue Services in Wales and paved the way for a number of similar partnerships for us and the other Fire and Rescue Services in Wales.

“I am extremely proud of our staff who have participated in this collaboration and have made a huge difference to the lives of so many people. Their contribution has without doubt had a positive impact on our response to this global pandemic”.

Mydrian Harries, Corporate Head of Prevention and Protection for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, coordinated the Service’s response to this call for assistance.

“Our communities are at the heart of our core business. Knowing we were in a position to make an impact, we put in place a robust solution in record time, to not only ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff, but to also safeguard those who were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination, but may have had barriers preventing them from attending their appointments.

“Using this partnership as template within which we could expand, we have since been able to offer our assistance to other Health Boards across the Service area. Indeed, a group of 10 vaccine heroes from our Service have joined Powys Teaching Health Board’s vaccination team, playing their part in distributing vaccines at mass vaccination sites in Newtown and Builth Wells. This is another fantastic example of how working together has been vital in our ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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