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Peter Robinson's anger over party political broadcast for cannabis campaign party Cista in Northern Ireland


The report claims that anti-drugs initiatives have "little impact" on halting drug abuse

The report claims that anti-drugs initiatives have "little impact" on halting drug abuse

The report claims that anti-drugs initiatives have "little impact" on halting drug abuse

A new party campaigning for the relaxation of the laws on cannabis will spark up debate after it secured a party political broadcast in Northern Ireland.

Their breakthrough came last night when they recruited a third candidate to run for them, automatically qualifying them for a broadcast.

The party is called Cista (Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol) and its latest recruit is Neil Paine, a 45-year-old former British soldier who lives in Coleraine. He is standing in East Londonderry where he hopes to unseat Gregory Campbell of the DUP.

First Minister Peter Robinson reacted with fury to the news of the broadcast - though he does not fear Cista electorally. "It shows how ludicrous electoral law and the role of broadcasters has become when we get cranks being given airtime for that. Why not have Screaming Lord Sutch on the leaders debates?" he asked.

The other local Cista runners are Barry Brown, a former SDLP candidate and GAA star from Omagh. He is standing in West Tyrone, while Glenn Donnelly is standing in North Down. And an Omagh man, former Tory Shane O'Donnell, is contesting the London constituency of Holborn and St Pancras.

Although Mr Paine, who uses cannabis for medical reasons, was raided twice by police, he said they did not charge him.

"I was born with a mild form of spina bifida but my spinal problems got worse as I got older. It is probably as a result of my work as a soldier and later a plasterer," he said. "I suffer from nightmares about violent incidents when I was in the Army. I don't make much secret of the fact I am using cannabis."

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In the past he has obtained supplies from Holland but, as he is registered disabled, is unable to afford it. But he reads all the research he can find.

"Certain strains with more of an ingredient called CBD seems to help more with the likes of the pain and mobility without getting you too intoxicated. Others would help with problems with sleep patterns and nightmares," he said.

Ideally he would like to be able to grow his own supply or buy it locally as you can in many parts of the US and Europe. A cannabis throat spray, Sativex, is already licensed for use in the UK for multiple sclerosis sufferers.

Mr Paine finds that THC, the ingredient which is found in high concentrations in black market cannabis, "puts me on edge and doesn't help my health."

The BBC said: "Parties that meet the necessary criteria will be allocated a party election broadcast (PEB). Allocation of PEBs is not finalised until after the close of nominations next week."


"Recent studies have shown that some cannabinoids have potent anti-cancer action. For example, both THC and CBD have been shown in a number of laboratory studies to effectively induce cell death in tumour cells by modifying the faulty signalling pathways inside these cells."

- Dr Wiu Liu, University of London

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