Mathew Young's case is just another example of the debate over medical marijuana in Florida, and now the man's lawyer wants to bring that debate to a Pasco County courtroom with the hopes of helping his client receive the one thing that gives him a somewhat normal life.
Young, 45, is a U.S. Army veteran.
"I've suffered somewhere around 30 concussions (and) shrapnel wounds from roadside bombs," said Young, who fought in Iraq.
The deeper wounds, Young said, were losing close friends — including his best friend.
"There isn't another person alive that I will ever be that close to again," Young said.
The scars of war left Young with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I hid myself in a 12-by-12 bedroom and didn't want to engage the world," he said.
While serving for the U.S. Department of State as a medic in Iraq, Young said he contracted aids from working on injured soldiers. Now, his wheelchair is just one of the few side effects that he says acme as a result of his medication.
Those side effects were unbearable at one point, he said.
"I was dying," Young said. "I was basically living in a bed and weighed about 128 pounds."
Young said medical marijuana has helped decrease the side effects — and the pain.
"The wheelchair was in storage, and I was able to do part of living life as a man," he said.
The medical marijuana also kept Young's PTSD at bay, adding: "It calms the whirlwind that swarms through my head."
Young said doctors told him he was a fit candidate for medical marijuana.
He was given paperwork from a Jacksonville-based law firm that explained his medical conditions. The paperwork didn't help him last year, however, when Young and his partner were arrested on trafficking, possession and manufacturing medical marijuana charges.
Shawn Gearhart, who is Young's lawyer, said his client isn't a criminal.
"He is a patient," Gearhart said. "It's obvious that he needs this medical cannabis to control the side effects of these other drugs he is taking and live a normal life."
Two of the charges have since been dropped, and now Gearhart is working on dropping the last one, as well as fighting for Young’s right to use medical marijuana.
"There is millions of Floridians that can benefit from whole flower cannabis that are dealing with debilitating diseases," Gearhart said.
For Mathew's partner, the benefits of medical marijuana make a world of difference.
"Our days are smooth, you are not tiptoeing around him," Lynne Nesselroad said. "You feel like you're living in the same world."
Young's pretrial starts Monday and, if convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.