Nova Scotia

Cancer patient wants to grow his own medical marijuana

Dave Murphy, 27, has brain cancer and is speaking out because he wants to put pressure on the federal government to move forward with legislation to legalize and regulate home-grown medical marijuana.

Dave Murphy wants to pressure the federal government to legalize and regulate home-grown medical marijuana

Dave Murphy has a licence to possess medical marijuana, but questions why he can't also grow cannabis on the small farm where he lives in Blanford, N.S. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

A Nova Scotia man living with brain cancer is appealing to the prime minister in an effort to get a licence to grow medical marijuana.

Dave Murphy, 27, says he wrote to Justin Trudeau and is speaking out now because he wants to put pressure on the federal government to move forward with legislation to legalize and regulate home-grown medical marijuana.

Murphy has a licence to possess medical marijuana, but questions why he can't also grow cannabis on the small farm where he lives in Blandford, N.S.

"I'd like to be able to make my own, that I know everything that goes into it," he said. "So I can actually treat it as a medicine in the proper fashion where I understand what I am taking in and I can control it," he said.

Impatient patient

In February, a Federal Court judge struck down federal regulations restricting the rights of medical marijuana patients to grow their own cannabis. The court gave the Liberal government six months to come up with new rules.

Murphy told Radio-Canada he's becoming impatient and has considered growing a small amount of marijuana himself, so he could cut up whole plants and make an edible solution he could use as needed.

"Even if it's just the hope it gives me, I want to fight for that," he said.

Up until now, Murphy has relied on mail-order marijuana, which he says is expensive and doesn't have the quality or strength he wants.

He also purchases some products from dispensaries, though he says they still fall under a "gray area" of the law. He was present when Farm Assists on Gottingen Street was searched last fall, an incident he says triggered PTSD.

Coping using cannabis

Murphy discovered he had a brain tumour five years ago, after getting an MRI for an unrelated head injury. He was in his third year of university. He says cannabis has been one of the things that has helped him cope with the diagnosis.

Moving to a rural area where he can work outside has given him new focus.

"I needed to feel like I was fighting cancer myself, at least a little bit. And try to find a life I could life happily," he said.

Murphy says after reading extensively about nutrition he set up a small garden and started experimenting with hens. This year, he's setting up a greenhouse on his property and has plans to fish and raise turkeys and chickens.

But Murphy struggles with night terrors and PTSD, which he says are linked to his diagnosis and the many procedures that followed.

At one point, he underwent an eight-hour surgery that removed part of his brain while he was still awake.

"Some mornings I wake up and I've had dark dreams and I can't remember. I'll cry and I'll dry heave into the toilet and I'll shake and I'll feel like it's freezing cold in my house. I know it's those fears that get to me," he said.

"Frankly I roll up a joint or I turn on a vaporizer and that really helps me shake it off. I go for a walk, spend some time with my dogs and try to build myself back up into a good day. "

With files from Stephanie Blanchet

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