Bravery, Valor, and Freedom….But at What Cost?
By Christopher Cano, Executive Director of Central FL NORML
When Matthew Young joined the United States Army and chose to place the Freedom
and National Security of our people before his own life, he did not expect to be left behind.
Members of the United Armed Forces live by that creed, we do not leave our people behind.
Yet, now this American Hero, spends his days bound to a wheelchair with multiple combat
related injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many veterans across the nation
are utilizing medical cannabis therapy to treat combat injuries and PTSD. Recently, the United
States Senate even approved for VA Doctors to discuss medical marijuana treatment with their
patients in legal states. Florida, unfortunately, is not one of those states.
Florida has approved of CBD oil for epilepsy and cancer. This move has caused many to
think that medical marijuana is legal or that CBD oil is enough. The facts, however, do not tell
that narrative. The psychoactive component of cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, is a
vital therapeutic component to treating the chronic pain and triggers associated with combat
injuries and PTSD. With medical cannabis therapy, Matthew Young has been able to play with
his daughter and even cook with his significant other. These normality’s of life are precious to
him and often overlooked by the rest of us. Worse than the injuries and the struggle to
maintain a normal life, is the ever looming threat of criminal prosecution for utilizing a plant
deemed illegal by the State of Florida and the Federal Government.
Being a good soldier and law abiding citizen, Matthew Young did his due diligence and
sought to legally obtain medical cannabis treatment in Florida. Unfortunately, a Jacksonville-
based law firm known as Health Law Services advised Young that under Medical Necessity
Doctrine, he was breaking no Florida law. They provided him false information that provided
him no defense or immunity when Pasco County Sheriff Deputies knocked on his door due to
the smell of marijuana plants. Following his arrest, the State Attorney has chosen to drop all charges.
Most recently, on Tuesday July 28th, a judge ordered Health Law Services to pay for
Matthew Young’s legal fees due to their false information and malpractice. Let us hope that
bad actors such as this firm and its attorneys are brought to justice. Taking advantage of the
sick for profit and personal gain is one of the most heinous crimes in our society. However,
abusing and harming our brave veterans is a crime that cannot be allowed to go unpunished.
Hopefully, the court of public opinion will convict and bring justice for all those left behind by
these charlatans posing a reputable legal counsel.
The public needs to know that in Florida, medical cannabis therapy is not yet legal.
United For Care’s petition is the best shot for veterans like Matthew Young to gain safe and
legal access. So if you wish to support our veterans and sick patients, be sure to assist in
petition gathering efforts this Summer and Fall. Without around 1 million signatures, the
Amendment for Medical Marijuana will not make it back on the ballot. With this coming
election year being a Presidential Election, the increased turnout is projected to assist in
helping push approval threshold over the 60% needed for adoption. Only you, the people, can
do what the politicians in Tallahassee and Washington D.C. have failed to do, provide life-saving
access to medical cannabis therapy to those with debilitating medical conditions.