Nova Scotia

Vigil held for N.S. hash-oil explosion victim

A vigil was held Saturday for 40-year-old Chris Backer, who was taken to a Halifax hospital in critical condition this month after the hash oil he was making exploded.

A vigil was held Saturday for 40-year-old Chris Backer, who was taken to a Halifax hospital in critical condition this month after the hash oil he was making exploded.

About 50 of Backer's family and friends held up a "Get Well" banner and sold T-shirts for $20 outside the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, where Backer is in the burn unit.

Backer, of Sackville, has a licence for medical marijuana to deal with his Crohn's disease, but making the more potent hash oil is illegal, RCMP have said.

On April 9, he was mixing isopropyl alcohol with cannabis to make hash oil in his basement, using a rice cooker, when the mixture overheated, exploded and set Backer on fire, police have said.

Oils often amplify the medical benefits of the plant.

Crohn's disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease and causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting and weight loss.

Debbie Stultz-Giffin, who has known Backer for four years, said she and many other medical marijuana users in the area feel the accident wouldn't have happened if Backer had been able to make the oil in his yard. Instead, he was forced to make it hidden from view in his basement, where dangerous fumes can build up.

"All the way around, the government has basically left us out on a limb, in the lurch and in dangerous situations, like Chris was left in by being forced to make oil in his own basement."

Backer's friend Brad MacDonald said Backer is now heavily medicated.

"He's trying to talk," Backer said. "He moves his arms, he's trying to gesture. He's trying to communicate with us as best he can but he can't speak because he has breathing apparatus assisting his oxygen levels and his mouth is pretty much covered."

The group is collecting donations for Backer's family.

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