A woman suffering from a rare cancer has been fined £450 after she was prosecuted for growing cannabis plants for medicinal purposes.

Jacqueline Ritchie, of Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a lump on her body in 2014.

But it turned out to be a rare and aggressive form – triple negative metaplastic breast cancer – with only around 600 other woman with the condition around the world.

She had a double mastectomy and also suffered from HER2 cancer and BRCA1 gene mutation.

Ritchie underwent chemotherapy and began researching how to combat the effects of the treatment.

The mother-of-two was charged after she was caught growing four plants with specialist equipment she also used to grow vegetables at her home over the winter months.

She admitted producing cannabis at 36 Redcloak Drive in Stonehaven on March 8 when she appeared in court earlier this year.

And she was fined 450 pounds at Aberdeen Sheriff Court yesterday.

Defence lawyer Ross Taggart said his client committed the offence in an act of desperation.

He said: “This is quite a rare cancer and as a result sufferers are known to each other around the world.”

He said his client had grown the drug in an attempt to stop the pain that she suffered.

The 49-year-old mainly used the oil she obtained from the plants.

After three weeks of chemotherapy in addition to prescribed drugs, Jacqui was suffering badly and felt she had to try something else.

She was first introduced to cannabis oil after another patient gave her a little of what she had left.

After the court hearing, she said the oil from the plant helped her get to sleep and reduced her nausea symptoms.

She said: “I’ve had lots of support from the community across Scotland.

“I originally started using it when I was going through chemo, it helped with all the side effects – I could eat again because with chemo you don’t have a very good appetite.

“I lost four stones going through chemo over the first couple of months.

“Taking oil from the plant made a big difference. I haven’t had it since March and so I’ve noticed it’s been detrimental to my health.

“We do need legislation for patients.

“In Britain it is a bit archaic.

“There’s lots of countries that give cannabis oil with chemotherapy, and the survival rates are a lot higher.”

HeraldScotland | Crime & Courts

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