“THE region is getting covered," says the founder of the Teesside Cannabis Club (TCC).

"It’s just a matter of time, from the Angel of the North to Middlesbrough police station.

“We’re not going to back down and we’re not just one voice, we’re hundreds, thousands of voices from all different walks of life – there is no stereotype.

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“We want to take cannabis from the top and the bottom, from the dealers who make our streets a nightmare to the pharmaceutical companies working with the government to hold sick people to ransom.”

The campaigner is speaking exclusively to The Northern Echo in a bid to highlight an illegal plot to establish wild cannabis grows at public sites around the North-East.

The Teesside father-of-three founded the organisation following the death of his father from cancer.

His father’s painful struggle and his own battle to control a crippling stomach condition inspired his work to promote the benefits of medicinal cannabis and he is now committed to campaigning for the legalisation and regulation of the class B drug.

His own GP recommended he turn to cannabis after a serious stomach complaint left him taking seven types of prescription drugs a day.

A mild strain of the cannabis taken once a day – enough to ease symptoms but not enough to provide a “head high” – has now replaced a once spiralling reliance on the cocktail of prescription drugs.

He believes it would have also helped his father deal with the pain of terminal lung cancer.

“When you’re caring for a relative with cancer you see what drugs and chemo are doing to them.

“I researched everything I could to try and help him with the pain but after he died I had nothing left to put my knowledge into.

“My way of helping others in my dad’s memory is to make as many people as possible aware of the health benefits of cannabis.”

Together with a disabled man in his 40s and a professional woman of 50, he set up the Teesside Cannabis Club (TCC) which works in conjunction with the lobbying organisation UKCSC (UK Cannabis Social Clubs) to promote the benefits of the plant.

And he is encouraging hundreds of members to support the Feed the Birds movement by setting up wild cannabis grows.

“We don’t condone dealing or selling drugs," he says. "We want people to be able to grow their own without being criminalised and we want it regulated.

“I’ve got 36 convictions for possession of cannabis, I’ve had to deal with drug dealers and I shouldn’t have had to go down this route at all.

“We’re speaking out to say we’re here in the North-East and we’re not going away until the law changes – this is not London, it’s not Manchester but it’s a big place and we can make a difference from here.”