Northern Ireland

Terminal cancer patient claims illegal cannabis use has 'prolonged' his life

Kieran McCrory Image copyright Kieran McCrory
Image caption Kieran McCrory, who started taking illegal cannabis oil after he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, said his doctors have now told him that his tumour has stopped growing

A man with a terminal brain tumour has said he believes cannabis oil has helped prolong his life and even though it is illegal, he will keep using it.

Kieran McCrory's medical prognosis of having three to five years to live remains, but he said doctors have told him his tumour has stopped growing.

It is illegal in the UK to use cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The government calls it "harmful", while Cancer Research UK said there is no evidence it can safely treat cancer.

'Optimistic'

Mr McCrory, a 38-year-old from Omagh, County Tyrone, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2014.

The father-of-one underwent brain surgery and radiation treatment, but last year he started using cannabis oil.

Image caption Kieran McCrory, pictured with his wife, Sylvia, last year when he appealed to Stormont's health minister to start a debate on legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes

He has not had any further radiation treatment since then.

"I can be optimistic about spending a good length of time on this planet with my wife and child," he said.

"It is good to see a bit of light. Basically, the tumour has stopped in its tracks. So it's not spread and it's not got any bigger."

Cannabis has been outlawed as a class B drug in the UK, but a derivative is used in a spray for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients.

It is legal to use cannabis oil in a limited number of countries.

In the United States, 23 out of the country's 50 states currently permit medical cannabis, with legislation pending in other states.

There is a new campaign calling for medical cannabis to be legalised in the UK.

'Harms individuals'

Supporters from End Our Pain have claimed the move would help more than an estimated 1m people who regularly use cannabis for medical reasons.

Image copyright Kieran McCrory
Image caption Kieran McCrory said he was now hopeful that he could spend "a good length of time on this planet" with his wife Sylvia (left) and his daughter

The Home Office said the government has no plans to legalise cannabis or change its approach to its use as medicine.

The Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation, Karen Bradley, said: "There is clear scientific and medical evidence that cannabis is a harmful drug which can damage people's mental and physical health, and harms individuals and communities."

A spokesperson for Cancer Research UK said: "We know that cannabinoids - the active chemicals found in cannabis - can have a range of different effects on cancer cells grown in the lab and animal tumours.

"But at the moment there isn't good evidence from clinical trials to prove that they can safely and effectively treat cancer in patients.

"Cancer Research UK is supporting clinical trials for treating cancer with cannabinoid-based drugs in order to gather solid data on whether they benefit people with cancer."

'Want to live'

Mr McCrory said he is fully aware of the legal consequences, but he will continue using cannabis oil.

"I am not hurting anyone. I am not out there selling drugs and I don't run a drugs factory," he said.

"You can't afford to put up restrictions when you are fighting for your life. What would anybody else do if you were in my shoes?

"I will be taking this oil for the rest of my life. I want to get to the age of 80. I just want to live."

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