Man gets off painkillers with marijuana – Dealing with aftermath of serious fall left former glazier facing serious medical questions


Man gets off painkillers with marijuana

John Berfelo says medical marijuana is better than pharmaceuticals for pain.

Photograph by: Arlen Redekop, PNG Files , Vancouver Sun

John Berfelo had always been what he calls “a recreational smoker.” But after falling 8.5 metres onto concrete, he credits marijuana with not just getting him high, but saving his life.
In 2005, the then-33-year-old glazier was working on a scissor-lift when he tripped on a box of construction materials and went over the railing. He woke up in the hospital.
“My life was changed forever,” Berfelo said.
His broke his neck in four places; he shattered his left elbow. He fractured his skull. He broke teeth and he shattered an ankle. He herniated three discs. He broke his hip.
Berfelo was in the hospital for three weeks. A live-in nurse and Meals on Wheels helped him when he returned home and started recovery. He was on 32 pills a day, including muscle relaxants, antidepressants and sleeping pills.
“I was on so many pills I carried around a little box of prescription drugs,” he said.
He was “chasing pain,” Berfelo said. “I was a mess, up and down, crying my eyes out. I did pain charts and logs for over four years.”
The pain fluctuated with the amount of drugs he was taking. At the time, he was also eating pot brownies from the B.C. Compassion Club Society.
The brownies were made with pot tested by Paul Hornby, a B.C.-based medical cannabis researcher and biochemist with a doctorate in human pathology. Berfelo found that those particular brownies worked better at fighting the pain than the prescribed painkillers, and their effects lasted longer.
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