event:florida

Charges dropped for man accused of growing ‘medically necessary’ marijuana

(TBT) Matthew Young won’t be spending any time in jail for growing medical marijuana, but he says each day continues to be a battle without the drug.

The State Attorney’s Office has dropped all criminal charges against the New Port Richey man arrested last year along with his girlfriend for growing marijuana to treat a slew of illnesses, including posttraumatic stress disorder.

“That we’re not going to be spending time in jail, it’s huge,” Young’s girlfriend, Lynne Nesselroad said. “It’s a big relief for everyone.

During his 1,600 days as a military contractor in Iraq, Young said he experienced numerous concussions from explosions, leaving him with brain injury, broken bones and PTSD. He also contracted HIV while working as a field medic and was diagnosed with AIDS about six years later, his attorney Shawn Gearhart said.

Young said he tried several medications to treat his nausea, bone pain and other symptoms, but none worked. He turned to medical marijuana, paying a Jacksonville lawyer nearly $800 to help him get a doctor to sign paperwork authorizing his right to grow and use cannabis. The drug immediately helped, he said.

"It calms everything,” Young, 45, said. “Without cannabis my head is like a tornado and a hurricane all at the same time.”

Young and Nesselroad were arrested in November 2014 when Pasco County sheriff’s deputies found the cannabis plants growing in their home. They showed officials what they thought was certification that allowed them to grow pot for Young’s medical use, but they faced criminal charges anyway.

The certification was provided by lawyer Ian Christensen, founder of Jacksonville-based Health Law Services, part of the IJC Law Group. The company tells its clients that patients with serious medical conditions have the right to use medical marijuana in Florida as long as a physician deems it “medically necessary” and orders its use. The company charges each client $799 for a doctor-approved identification card authorizing their use of the drug.