Having briefly met Jeff Ditchfield before, I was expecting a call that would be concise and to the point. He didn't disappoint.
I wanted to contact Jeff regarding news that a start-up business venture with partners Tommy Corbyn and Chloe Kerslake Smith, the National Hemp Service, had been placed into liquidation:
A topic we will come back to later.
To my surprise, what was revealed during our phone call was a totally focused, compassionate human being who had been thrust into a position he really felt uncomfortable being in.
Let me explain; It was back in the 1970's, historic days of three-day working weeks, miners strikes, electricity blackouts, and average house prices of £9,000. As complete turmoil rained around, 14-year-old Jeff had the foresight to think ahead. Young Jeff is attending a funeral for his Uncle, taken too early by a genetic heart condition. This funeral and his genetic heart condition ended up shaping so much of Jeff’s life.
Sat in the back of a cold church in Liverpool he had a revelation. It dawned on young Jeff that this was the seventh funeral he had attended. Why so many?
All the deaths were close blood relatives, all due to heart attack, all males, all in their 40s and 50s. During the hymn Abide With Me, Jeff thought ‘why shouldn't this be my fate?' That was when he realised that if he wanted to enjoy any sort of retirement he would have to retire age 40.
A man who knows he will die young makes special preparations. Jeff focused on retiring at 40, hoping to enjoy what life was left him. A week before his fortieth birthday he achieved his aim.
Moving to a villa in Spain, his retirement awaited. Little did he know an unexpected series of events would lead to him becoming one of the UK’s best-known proponents of medical cannabis and a campaigner for the abolition of prohibition.
It began when his accountant friend confided in him about her use of cannabis to treat Multiple Sclerosis. This was almost 20 years ago! Jeff's friend, in attempting to source her medicine, was robbed at knifepoint. Not wanting his ill friend to experience anything like that again, Jeff took action to keep his friend safe. This was the start of Bud Buddies.
Due to the law, his focus is on helping terminally ill people. This compassionate, caring person, who has had his own brushes with death and the law, is not one for giving up.
Remember Jeff’s genetic heart condition? Well, death came calling. It came to haunt him and gave a gentle prod; a reminder of how tenuous life is. In bed in intensive care the evening before his heart operation in 2012 he made a pact with the Universal Spirit: He would continue to help people, putting his own liberty on the line. In exchange, the Universal Spirit would not take him while he continued his work.
In Jeff's own words: “I'd been told by my surgeon that I had a 20% chance of dying on the operating table. So I made a pact. In prayer, I promised that for as long as people needed help I would fight prohibition. When God wanted me to stop, just give me my final heart attack, I'm keeping my side of our bargain.”
Fast forward to 23rd February 2017 and the law comes calling again. A protest outside of Parliament led to a run-in with the Met police. Responding to Paul Flynn MP's call ‘to come to Parliament and break the law” Jeff was arrested.
In custody at Charing Cross police station, Jeff refused a caution. He subsequently refused to plead guilty at Magistrates court and he demanded his right to challenge the law at a crown court in front of a jury.
Due to some ‘shenanigans' by a particular police officer, in December last year, Jeff missed a court appearance and a warrant was issued for his arrest. I cannot say too much about this at the moment as Jeff is currently taking legal civil action against the Met police. Long story short, Jeff was arrested in North Wales, placed in custody and next day transported in a prison van to Southwark magistrates court. Arriving at Court Jeff pleaded not guilty and insisted he be dealt with at crown court.
In February this year, at crown court, the CPS prosecutor understood the possible ramifications of Jeff's case. He decided to present no evidence and the judge dismissed the case. But even now, as Jeff travels international borders, there are echoes of his case that complicate things.
The primary – no, the single – motivation for Jeff never having retired and achieved that long-cherished dream his 14-year-old self wanted is the pact he made with the Spirit (God). He cannot stop helping people until prohibition ends or death calls again. The heart-tugging cases don't stop coming. The very day we spoke he had new visitors to his website, Bud Buddies. I can hear the anguish in his voice as he describes the two new unsolicited emails that have arrived from the parents of desperately ill children looking for a miracle. He never knows if it is too late to help.
The reluctant healer, Jeff is not seeking publicity or the limelight. He is not even seeking a career. He wants the end of a broken age so people don't have to go to underground networks.
The UK remains in the Dark Ages of medicinal cannabis. What is accepted throughout much of the rest of the world is denied here. That's why he is still assisting and, in some cases, supplying rich and poor, young and old, even some in the very seat of government because they are all desperate for help and assistance.
Everyone who challenges the status quo has a price to pay – only when change actually happens and reparations are made is the balance restored and Jeff will finally be able to retire again.
Oh, I almost forgot. We did discuss the case of the National Hemp Service Limited. Jeff has said he'll tell me all about it after the election. Like so much of Jeff’s life, it’s a conundrum he's struggling with.
So when you see Jeff and, like me, think he is grumpy or distant – remember, he has the weight of so many people’s expectations on his shoulders. His pact with the Spirit weighs heavy, but he won't give up.
*Note: During the course of writing this article I contacted [email protected], for comment. However, it seems as though there were some crossed wires and they believed that I would be focusing on the NHS aspect of things, rather than focusing on Jeff himself. I did have a call to try and explain but the only piece we can make public is the statement we were sent:
A source close to Tommy Corbyn and Chloe Kerslake-Smith said:
“This investor fraudulently misrepresented himself and didn’t deliver on his promises, preventing the company from launching or trading. When he was confronted about his fraudulent misrepresentations, he provided no explanation and instead launched improper legal action against the company. This process was too expensive and time consuming for the company to fight against. The directors had no choice but to voluntarily liquidate the company so that they could be free of this toxic individual. He has been reported to action fraud, and is currently under investigation.”
I asked Jeff for his response to their statement and he said:
“Complete rubbish, I totally refute their unfounded, farcical accusations, as to ‘under investigation', are they stoned?
As a Labour Party member I want to see Jeremy Corbyn as PM next week. I'll talk to you on Thursday, I'll be free to say much more then.”
There is obviously much more to this story and I will be following it up with Jeff, Tommy and Chloe.
The developing industry has a long way to go and to such luminaries fall out so publicly it is such a shame. If you want to join the industry we recommend using white label CBD suppliers based in the UK