Home grown in Digby--Cannabis grower won’t stop growing his own

Jonathan
Jonathan Riley
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Upstairs in his mother’s barn in Conway, just outside Digby, Shawn Harvey has hundreds of cannabis plants.

He has two rooms up there, built out of white fiberglass paper and hung with bright lights; one room contains 60 large plants—they get a warm yellow light—and across the hall are a couple hundred younger plants under cooler white lights. The large plants are budding and almost ready to harvest; the smaller plants will be the next crop.

It’s all legal until March 31 under the federal Marihuana Medical Access Program.

Harvey has a prescription that allows him to use 14 grams of marijuana a day; he has a Personal-Use Production Licence that allows him to have 69 plants in production.

“It’s a ridiculous amount,” says Harvey. “I couldn’t smoke it all if I started first thing in the morning and smoked all day.”

Harvey wore his back out working on scallop draggers.

“Bent over with your hands around your ankles is not a healthy position to work in,” says Harvey.

He has a herniated disk and uses cannabis, about three or four grams a day he says, to handle the pain.

“My pain is with me all the time, there is no getting away from it,” he says. “Cannabis gives me some relief, it’s a warm feeling of relief.”

Currently they are three ways for Canadians with a prescription for medical marijuana to source their medication.

They can buy it from Health Canada, they can grow their own or they can appoint someone else to grow it for them.

None of those options will exist come April 1.

Harvey and the other 37,000 Canadians with a personal-use production licence will have to destroy their plants and buy their cannabis from a federally licensed producer.

The federal government says it’s changing the rules because the system is “open to abuse” and they say the new system will allow cannabis dosage and potency to be standardized and it will cut down on criminal activity like theft from growers and home invasions.

The federal government has so far licensed nine companies to produce medical marijuana in Canada. 

[ Marijuana facility planned for Stellarton ]

Harvey expects the companies will be charging upwards of $10 a gram. He estimates it costs him between $2 to $4 a gram to grow his own.

Harvey originally was prescribed other painkillers and pills for his pain but was scared of a serious addiction and other side effects.

Cannabis worked better for him but he says he can’t afford to buy cannabis from the companies and doesn’t see why he should have to, in his words, “make them rich.”

“Cannabis is a natural herb, it grows naturally on the planet, versus pills manufactured by a pharmaceutical corporation,” says Harvey. “I’m not an overly religious person but it says right on the first page of the Bible that God gave us every herb and plant to use.”

Harvey is referring to Genesis 1:29, near the end of the first chapter of the Bible where God says, “Let there be light” and there was light.

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”

Harvey doesn’t think it’s right for the government and these companies to be making money off people with illness and says he will keep growing his own.

He says he will move his plants away from his mother’s property because he doesn’t want her to be involved.

But he says he’ll take his chances in court.

“If 12 members of my community find me guilty, then so be it,” he said. “I’ll take my chances in front of 12 members of my community.”

jriley@digbycourier.ca

Organizations: Personal-Use Production Licence, Health Canada

Geographic location: Digby, Conway, Canada Stellarton

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  • Devon
    March 13, 2014 - 13:28

    nar·cot·ic (noun) 1 any of a class of substances that blunt the senses, as opium, morphine, belladonna, and alcohol, that in large quantities produce euphoria, stupor, or coma, that when used constantly can cause habituation or addiction, and that are used in medicine to relieve pain, cause sedation, and induce sleep 2 anything that exercises a soothing or numbing effect or influence:

  • fred
    March 12, 2014 - 20:28

    weed will get you though times without money better than money will get you though times without weed.

  • 123
    March 12, 2014 - 16:56

    I have to disagree, the amount of marijuana on the street has likely stayed the same because the people who are using their license to grow and sell were doing it before the licenses were issued, and will continue to do it after March 31st. I am a registered nurse, with a masters degree in public health, specializing in drug policy reform and harm reduction. I am far from naive and my perspective on this is out of concern for legitimate patients. Marijuana use goes beyond smoking to get high, there are benefits in making oils, creams, and even tea out of cannabis. I am happy that Health Canada is regulating, they definitely need to. I am advocating for those who will not be able to afford the price from the dispensaries. It would be different if the system started this way, but to take away something they could previously produce themselves, and ask them to pay is not moral. Your concern, the drug dealers, is an issue best dealt with by decriminalizing marijuana....sound counterintuitive? It is, but if the government controls and taxes it then it leaves the streets. Check out Portugal if you're interested, they decriminalized all drugs about 10 years ago and have made some great strides in reducing drug use among youth, and the rate of drug related crimes. They have also seen an increase in rehabilitation. All good things that would be nice to see here.

  • Melinda
    March 11, 2014 - 19:06

    This is going to be one of those things that is better for some people and worse for others. I am not in control of the situation but I am quite familiar with how the situations get processed. Medical documentation is sent to Health Canada and certain illnesses have amounts that were approved under Health Canada 'guidelines'. If Health Canada didn't agree with what the Doctor put on the papers they wouldn't issue paperwork for that amount. A Doctor should only be charging one set price for a form it wouldn't be based on how many plants a person had. I know of many Doctors personally and I am sure that this is not how they operate. The new guidelines will enable more people then ever before to use Marijuana for medical reasons. Health Canada used to have a very small list of the illness that they would approve for those licenses. Now Health care providers will not be limited as to what illnesses can be approved. I do think that people are raising valid points with regard to price and such. It is very unfortunate how people will have to buy it from one place and people who can afford it on the old system will not be able to use it with the new system. The same as higher priced medications that might not be covered on some drug plans or people without any drug plan, they have to go on another medication that might not work as well. It is sad that this is a reality for so many people. I hope that with this new system that they can get the "kinks" worked out of it sooner rather then later so that people are not suffering or being punished harshly for doing something that they have done legally for years and can't afford any different. That would be a sad day indeed.

  • David Shea
    March 11, 2014 - 18:07

    The reality is patients who actually need access and can not afford the new system will do what they have to in order to survive and the new system makes criminals out of those patients. This notion that cannabis licenses are abused being a valid reason to take away the right to grow is as absurd as taking away everyone's personal drivers license because criminals abuse their drivers license to transport illegal cannabis.

  • James MacDonald
    March 11, 2014 - 15:30

    Power to ya bro. My court process starts April 7th. I'm totally with you, ill never stop. I only had ten and I was treated like a low life. Mean while murders and real drug dealers run free, spend our money right and protect its citizens instead of arresting sick people because we're not gonna let them get rich off our illness. Fight bro fight

  • Janelle
    March 11, 2014 - 12:23

    I support this cause. Big Pharma takes the control out of peoples hands. with Chemo therapy , highly toxic drugs/painkillers that are the cause of more deaths in North America then alcohol and cigarettes, why should we hand over our hard earned money for them to make us even sicker and more dependent on them. We spend more tax dollars in housing prisoners, court procedures and law enforcement for petty crimes such as small marijuana consumption while disabled people or the sick have to dish out all their money just to pay for their medical needs. I encourage all to search the benefits of hemp/marijuana for diet and medicine. I believe a lot of the reason they keep categorizing marijuana as this gateway drug is pure indoctrination to keep control over the masses socially. Population control or "sustainable development" is the goal "Globally", and Canada is a leader in these theologies. Government needs to halt Pharmaceutical companies on killing off our seniors, cutting our life expectancy, and filling our children with useless vaccines and medicines that have more long term effects than the diseases they are "attempting" to cure/ or prevent. Glad to see there are people out there who are freethinking individuals.

  • Janelle
    March 11, 2014 - 12:20

    I support this cause. Big Pharma takes the control out of peoples hands. with Chemo therapy , highly toxic drugs/painkillers that are the cause of more deaths in North America then alcohol and cigarettes, why should we hand over our hard earned money for them to make us even sicker and more dependent on them. We spend more tax dollars in housing prisoners, court procedures and law enforcement for petty crimes such as small marijuana consumption while disabled people or the sick have to dish out all their money just to pay for their medical needs. I encourage all to search the benefits of hemp/marijuana for diet and medicine. I believe a lot of the reason they keep categorizing marijuana as this gateway drug is pure indoctrination to keep control over the masses socially. Population control or "sustainable development" is the goal "Globally", and Canada is a leader in these theologies. Government needs to halt Pharmaceutical companies on killing off our seniors, cutting our life expectancy, and filling our children with useless vaccines and medicines that have more long term effects than the diseases they are "attempting" to cure/ or prevent. Glad to see there are people out there who are freethinking individuals.

  • jeff miller
    March 11, 2014 - 05:22

    yes why should i have to spend all my moeny for pain relive when i can grow my own,health canada is just trying to get in on the cash cow....

  • gary meyer
    March 11, 2014 - 04:04

    i think the same way, all the gov. has acomplished is hardships for honest good ordinary people to get legaly perscribed medication, i have a licence for 49 plants and only grow 16, like johnathan says who can smoke that much, there are people i know who have licences for 300 plants for personal use, that tells me that the people at the gov. have absolutly no idea what the fuck they are doing, everyone should have gotten 12 plants and that would be the end of it, but the doctors started charging big bucks to fill out perscriptions and the more the plants the more they started charging , and dont forget that everyone goes back evey year, so at 600.00 for a 300 plant licence, every year dr.s were turning it into a second income,

  • gary meyer
    March 11, 2014 - 04:03

    i think the same way, all the gov. has acomplished is hardships for honest good ordinary people to get legaly perscribed medication, i have a licence for 49 plants and only grow 16, like johnathan says who can smoke that much, there are people i know who have licences for 300 plants for personal use, that tells me that the people at the gov. have absolutly no idea what the fuck they are doing, everyone should have gotten 12 plants and that would be the end of it, but the doctors started charging big bucks to fill out perscriptions and the more the plants the more they started charging , and dont forget that everyone goes back evey year, so at 600.00 for a 300 plant licence, every year dr.s were turning it into a second income,

  • Joanne
    March 11, 2014 - 00:13

    All this is about the government wanting their hands on the money to better line their pockets.. Our government does not protect and take care of their people!!! GREED!!! The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and the sick are ignorned and abused by our government!!! This world gets worse every day and it is so sad and makes me so angry!!

  • Saffyre
    March 10, 2014 - 23:35

    If the government wants to control it then it should be covered by you insurance prescription drug program. Then you can get it covered and paid for by insurance companies. They all work together anyway.

  • Kathy Melanson
    March 10, 2014 - 21:33

    You got my vote..government just want the money..period

  • jacques rousseau
    March 10, 2014 - 20:11

    the government will screw it up completely . No common sense coming from them brains

  • lol
    March 10, 2014 - 17:42

    It looks like a lot of hard work to build that room at the top of the shop and lug water ,soil,plant food,supplies to maintain your plants, and up and down every day to water and check them , i'm sorry that your back is so bad you can't work through the pain. Scalloping might be easier.

    • fred
      March 12, 2014 - 20:33

      weed will get you though times without money better than money will get you though times without weed.

  • MikeMcD
    March 10, 2014 - 17:37

    The beauty of marijuana as a medication I's that there are literally hundreds of straigns that treat a variety of ailments, all of these have varying levels of different cannibinoids, all acting differently to produce a specific effect. The guy with cancer who needs to sleep doesn't want a straign that will keep him awake, visa versa, and so on. It's a custom tailored medication based on each patients medical need.. How does health canada plan to address this??

  • Tony
    March 10, 2014 - 17:15

    Although for people with legitimate problems, I agree it's useful to keep the mind off the pain, but it's not a medicine, It's a narcotic drug, and it has negative effects on the body. For people who are prescribed it, that's fine, nothing wrong there, but when people bribe doctors to get licences, and grow marijuana for profit, then there starts to have a problem. It's for this reason that the law is changing March 31, people everywhere are growing weed and selling it to minors and just about anyone, and making vast profits when damaging peoples health. Do you think that a 12 year old human should be using marijuana? Then why make a system that makes this readily available? Do you think growing industrial amounts like that will seriously not be sold 150$-200$/ounce for profit to ANYONE? The current system that is about to change DOES NOT WORK for the COMMUNITY. Maybe single users with legitimate problems, maybe, but for the good of the community, NO. I'm saying that as a smoker myself, and getting caught in the weed business in my Nova Scotia from a young age. I've smoked it for a long time and I still do, and I wish it would of never been around, I would of been better off without smoking it. It's a drug that damages your body and the bodies of our people in our community. It's the greed of these people that ruined the people who actually benefit from it most. That means that people will pay much more for their habit and have lesser financial resources for food and shelter.

    • Pat
      March 11, 2014 - 06:32

      Tony, thats a bunch of regurgitated media crap. Please do tell how marijuana has negative effects. And YES, I would like my child smoking it, as long as its responsibly.

    • abc
      March 11, 2014 - 15:40

      Misinformation overload!!! Like Pat said, this is a bunch of regurgitated media BS. If we want to keep marijuana out of the hands of children we need to regulate it...not criminalize it! Also, this article has nothing to do with children and access to marijuana. There are far worse substances out there, alcohol being one, that kids are into these days. This is about the government taking away access to medication. As another poster mentioned, if they are going to deny people the ability to grow it for next to nothing, than it should be provided by these dispensaries at minimal, or no, cost to those who possess a license.

    • Margaret
      March 12, 2014 - 07:48

      Marijuana is not a narcotic. Get your facts straight.

    • Margaret
      March 12, 2014 - 07:48

      Marijuana is not a narcotic. Get your facts straight.

    • Margaret
      March 12, 2014 - 07:49

      Marijuana is not a narcotic. Get your facts straight.

  • Elaine Franzen
    March 10, 2014 - 14:17

    I agree with Mr. Harvey. It is ridiculous that people that need it will have to buy it from where the Government tells them too. It is just one more form of control that the Government has over us. I live with bad back pain every day too, and I have to wait for 15 months to see the back surgeon because the powers that be did not hire another back surgeon in Nova Scotia to replace the one that retired and now we only have one back surgeon in our Province. But we will keep paying as long as we let the Government control every little bit of our lives. So much for living in a free country.

    • hard truth
      March 11, 2014 - 12:42

      You agree with Mr. Harvey, well good on you, maybe you can pay his "disability" checks instead of the rest of us. This license to grow weed has been one of the biggest fiascos I have evere heard of. Giving someone a license to grow 300 plants for "personal use"??? are you nuts? Every drug dealer I know of miraculously developed a dibilatating injury of some sort, flew to ontario, paid the idiot doctor there and came home with their growing license for 300 plants...and you don't think its a problem?

    • MDR lol
      March 11, 2014 - 20:10

      I would love it if I could make my own medication.I take 5 kind that cost me a small fortune every month

    • 123
      March 12, 2014 - 10:51

      No one said anything about 300 plants. That sounds like an issue with a dirty doctor not medical marijuana. 37,000 people have a license to grow, since this was implemented has there been a drastic increase in the supply of marijuana in Canada? You present me those facts and I will believe your "hard truth"

    • hard truth
      March 12, 2014 - 12:07

      You don't think theres been a drastic increase in the amount of marijuana on the street since these growing licenses were issued, you need to open your eyes, take a drive in the digby area, how many "clam diggers" who haven't been on a beach in years do you see driving new vehicles, building on their houses and such? How many people that don't seem to have a real job, but seem to have lots of money around, where do you think its coming from? Don't be naive, even in the article above, and I quote "Upstairs in his mother’s barn in Conway, just outside Digby, Shawn Harvey has hundreds of cannabis plants" although he only has a license for 60. So what does he do with all the extra bud over and above of what he so desperately needs to soothe his pain? I think I know. If I had access to the records of who was given one of these licenses, I think it would be very interesting to cross reference this data with criminal record data, and see what the ratio would be as to how many license holders have a record for possesion with intent to traffic, or trafficking. I think the numbers would be astounding. Take it from one who knows both sides of this story, theres a heck of a lot more growing with a license for no other purpose than to sell it for profit, than there is those growing it for a real medical need. Allowing this to continue is only going to create bigger issues down the road.

    • 123
      March 13, 2014 - 12:29

      I have to disagree, the amount of marijuana on the street has likely stayed the same because the people who are using their license to grow and sell were doing it before the licenses were issued, and will continue to do it after March 31st. I am a registered nurse, with a masters degree in public health, specializing in drug policy reform and harm reduction. I am far from naive and my perspective on this is out of concern for legitimate patients. Marijuana use goes beyond smoking to get high, there are benefits in making oils, creams, and even tea out of cannabis. I am happy that Health Canada is regulating, they definitely need to. I am advocating for those who will not be able to afford the price from the dispensaries. It would be different if the system started this way, but to take away something they could previously produce themselves, and ask them to pay is not moral. Your concern, the drug dealers, is an issue best dealt with by decriminalizing marijuana....sound counterintuitive? It is, but if the government controls and taxes it then it leaves the streets. Check out Portugal if you're interested, they decriminalized all drugs about 10 years ago and have made some great strides in reducing drug use among youth, and the rate of drug related crimes. They have also seen an increase in rehabilitation. All good things that would be nice to see here.

    • 123
      March 13, 2014 - 12:29

      I have to disagree, the amount of marijuana on the street has likely stayed the same because the people who are using their license to grow and sell were doing it before the licenses were issued, and will continue to do it after March 31st. I am a registered nurse, with a masters degree in public health, specializing in drug policy reform and harm reduction. I am far from naive and my perspective on this is out of concern for legitimate patients. Marijuana use goes beyond smoking to get high, there are benefits in making oils, creams, and even tea out of cannabis. I am happy that Health Canada is regulating, they definitely need to. I am advocating for those who will not be able to afford the price from the dispensaries. It would be different if the system started this way, but to take away something they could previously produce themselves, and ask them to pay is not moral. Your concern, the drug dealers, is an issue best dealt with by decriminalizing marijuana....sound counterintuitive? It is, but if the government controls and taxes it then it leaves the streets. Check out Portugal if you're interested, they decriminalized all drugs about 10 years ago and have made some great strides in reducing drug use among youth, and the rate of drug related crimes. They have also seen an increase in rehabilitation. All good things that would be nice to see here.