A cancer sufferer who was growing cannabis at home as pain relief for herself has told a judge she cannot completely quit using the drug.
On October 14, 2021, gardaí acting on confidential information executed a search warrant for the north Dublin home of Stacey Harcourt (41) and found a pillow case containing plastic bags of cannabis herb. Harcourt told gardaí that she had clipped the leaves from plants she had grown herself from seed.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that she was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2010 and since then she has had eight operations on her neck and 15 operations related to malignant melanoma.
Harcourt told gardaí that she had undergone chemotherapy but this hadn't worked and that “cannabis is the only thing that works”. She was using about five grammes of the plant every evening and said she never sold it on and “never will”.
Olan Callanan BL, defending, told Judge Martina Baxter that his client used the drug for pain and “in her mind, for the suppression of the disease herself”. She put it into oils, butters and ointments, for consumption and for topical placement.
“In a very difficult decade, it's the only thing that has given her some comfort,” he said.
Harcourt, of Carton Close, Ballymun, pleaded guilty to unlawful cultivation of cannabis at her home on October 14, 2021. The total weight of the cannabis herb seized was 448 grammes, with an estimated street value given as €8,966.
The court heard the single mother had worked in security at large-scale events, but has lost that work now as a result of this conviction. Garda Conor Garland told Mr Callanan that Harcourt was not on any “garda radar” for drug-dealing.
She has a number of previous convictions for road traffic offences and one for impeding the arrest of a suspect. Garda Garland told the court that in 2005 she had facilitated the escape of a post officer raider with the proceeds of the robbery.
Judge Martina Baxter adjourned the case to allow time for a Probation Service assessment. She said she wanted urine analysis for drugs. Mr Callanan said that over the last 10 years, his client had become attached to using the herb to treat her cancer.
Harcourt told the judge that she would try to cut down on her use of the drug but said: “I ultimately cannot stop completely, I tried before to give it up and I got very sick.” She said “it's not an addiction,” and that she had never done any drugs before and only discovered cannabis after her cancer diagnosis.
Judge Baxter told the defendant she appreciated her situation but that “in the eyes of the law, you are still committing an offence” every time she used the drug. She ordered that any medical reports be forwarded to the Probation Service as part of the assessment and adjourned sentence to April 21 next.