Ryan Pelletier was something of a mess when he got out of the Marine Corps in 2006. After serving four years, including one tour in Iraq, he was left with the physical pain of knee problems, and overwhelming emotional turmoil.
The transition from military to civilian life was especially tough, he said, because of his training.
â€śThe way they train you is, they take all emotions out of you. Youâ€™re left with nothing but anger.â€ť
Alcohol gave some relief, but when it became clear he was becoming an alcoholic, â€śI smartened up a little bit,â€ť he said.
Actually Pelletier, 37, credits the woman in his life with helping him move away from drinking and â€śdabbling with drugs.â€ť
â€śAnd weâ€™re still together,â€ť he said.
As a veteran, he was eligible for care at Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta, where he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and given medications.
â€śThey kind of helped with aches and pains . . . kind of shut off your nerves, but not really doing anything. The depression and anti-anxiety pills didnâ€™t work. They made me irritable.â€ť
Exercise brought no relief, either, although he certainly tried that:
â€śI was a gym freak. I was there six days a week.â€ť
He entered a 12-week program for PTSD that included several sessions a week. But he was still tense, unable to relax, often angry and struggling to sleep.
Then a friend suggested that he try edibles â€“ candies infused with concentrated medical marijuana (or cannabis).
â€śThat helped with the aches and pains. Itâ€™s like a muscle relaxant,â€ť said Pelletier.
This was the beginning of a road back to a more comfortable life. He tried different edibles and began legally growing marijuana for his own use, learning about what worked best for him along the way.
Now, with smoking marijuana in the evening and eating a couple pieces of a potent Hershey-like chocolate bar,
Pelletier has almost found peace.
â€śI laugh again. Iâ€™m not so angry. Iâ€™m more relaxed and my body feels better.â€ť
He gives great credit to the dispensaries where he buys the edibles for helping him learn about products, potencies and best uses.
â€śTheyâ€™re very helpful. They educate you, tell you anything you want to know.â€ť
At this point, Pelletier sees no reason to ever stop relying on using the varieties of marijuana that have given him a decent life.
As a supervisor on a construction job, â€śI strive to do my best at work. I never stop thinking about the job.
I still struggle to sleep, so itâ€™s nice to relax.â€ť
As he sees it, there are only a couple of downsides to using marijuana.
â€śIf youâ€™re not active, you could gain a little bit of weight when you get the munchies.â€ť
Thereâ€™s no overdosing on edibles, he points out: â€śIf you eat too much, you just go to sleep.â€ť
The cost is the biggest downside. One of his chocolate bars with 12 sections is $20. For sleep, he eats two pieces.
Pelletier said his 12-year-old pit bull-Boxer mix, Colby, also likes cannabis.
â€śHe used to moan and groan when he got up off the floor.â€ť
But a few drops of very expensive CBD oil in Colbyâ€™s food solved that problem.
By Terri Hibbard