Marine vet signs on for medical cannabis

Racked by pain and stress, Gainesville man seeks relief with legal marijuana

Chris Breyfogle remembers when he came to in Haile Plantation — about 10½ miles from the downtown Gainesville bar where small talk about military combat with a fellow veteran triggered a blackout rage.

When Breyfogle, 37, snapped out of it, he was with sheriff’s deputies. Blood dripped down his face. He was tired and confused.

Breyfogle’s friends later said someone had put an arm around him for comfort. The touch took Breyfogle to a different place. He headbutted a man and put another man in an armlock, before disappearing for hours on a walk into the night.

That was years ago.

On a humid April day this year, Breyfogle met with a reporter at a metal picnic table in the Innovation Square district. His blue, collared shirt rested on tense shoulders. Breyfogle wore black polarized sunglasses that he took off only a few times to rub his tired eyes.

He sat with his fingers interlocked in front of him on the table, seemingly tense, fiddling his thumbs.

The Chicago native was at the beginning of a journey to seek medical cannabis as an alternative to pharmaceutical medicines used to treat symptoms of severe post-traumatic stress disorder, stemming from nearly 10 years in the Marine Corps, including two active combat tours in Baghdad.

Breyfogle also was hoping medical cannabis would end his daily routine of 1,600 milligrams of ibuprofen. Spinal surgery had done little to relieve pain following a motorcycle accident and spinal surgery. But the high dose of painkillers had done damage of its own — causing a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, thinning lining of his throat, and diverticulosis, a condition in which small, bulging pouches develop in the digestive tract.

“Years of NSAIDs have destroyed my insides and I’m going to have to live with (that) for the rest of my life,”

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