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'Lifesaving Substance': Veteran Will Be First Recreational Marijuana Customer

LEICESTER (CBS) - Stephen Mandile will be Cultivate's first recreational cannabis customer. He says without it he'd still be in a very dark place.

"It had me feeling like the shell of a person I was," he told WBZ. "I didn't feel like I had control over my thoughts."

Life before cannabis for Mandile was as if he was the passenger inside his own mind and body. Ten years and 57 different medications.

"There were opioids, benzodiazepines, muscle relaxers, sleeping pills… all of which led me to a suicide attempt," he explained.

Stephen Mandile
Stephen Mandile (WBZ-TV)

Medications stemming from a serious accident. In 2004 and 2005, he was known as Sergeant Mandile, Army National Guard.

"After that accident I felt fine during the day and then woke up the next morning and I couldn't feel anything from the waist down," he said.

He says his physical everyday pain is an eight out of ten. His mind, constantly racing. Until now.

"When I consume cannabis it's like putting on headphones and I can hear one song I can focus and I can finish a thought," he said.

He can finally live and enjoy the moment with his wife, two daughters, and you can't miss his service dog Syd.

Stephen Mandile
Stephen Mandile and Syd (WBZ-TV)

While he will be the first customer in Leicester, David Narkewicz will be at the front of the line in Northampton. He is both a veteran of the Air Force and the Mayor of the city.

He doesn't plan to use his purchase, instead he will preserve it as part of a historic moment. "I think it sends important message that I be the first person to make that purchase," he said.

Narkewicz hopes to help change the stigma surrounding marijuana so more people like Mandile can get the help they need.

"For me this was definitely a lifesaving substance," Mandile said.

Mandile knows he won't be the only veteran this will be so good for. He says the fact that it will be so available like this will save many more lives.

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