Twenty-three-year-old Lane Britnell was a national champion track athlete before Crohn’s disease took his life away, now police charges threaten to do the same.

Suffering from painful symptoms and delayed treatment, Britnell was largely unable to leave his home and fell into depression.

“The result of living in isolation is becoming detached from the world,” Britnell wrote in a blog he maintained during treatment. “Detached from your friends and family, from your job, from your hobbies, detached from life.”

“Eventually you find yourself feeling dead inside, wondering what the hell happened.”

Close friend Lauren Taylor said she watched Crohn’s consume Britnell’s life and body.

“I went from being able to exercise with him and do an elite sport with him to watching him get winded walking up the stairs,” said Taylor.

Britnell tried prescribed painkillers, but the side effects were too much.

 “I lied next to him every night as he screamed in pain and lost his quality of life,” said friend Brittany Elliott at an Oct. 31 rally.

After a surgery to separate his fused colon and bladder, Britnell began using medicinal cannabis, and it changed his life.

You can see the dramatic difference from the photo at the top of the page, with the image on the left showing Britnell after surgery, and the image on the right taken six months later, all while he was using medicinal cannabis.

“As far as my own health goes, cannabis is nothing new for me, but having consistent access to quality, lab tested edibles and suppositories has revolutionized my healing process,” Britnell wrote in October.

Taylor said Britnell’s healing was expedited by discovering the Saskatchewan Compassion Club, where he could purchase medicine outside of Health Canada‘s confusing system and had access to extracts and edibles that the government prohibits patients from using.

Now healthier than he had been in years, Britnell began working at the compassion club, helping patients going through the same issues with Crohn’s he had.

“I literally spend my days passing on the two things that have made the biggest difference in my health (fitness and cannabis), to those who truly need it,” Britnell wrote. 

“We saw him smile again for the first time in a very, very long time,” Elliott said. “He got his life back and he wanted to share it with others.”

Now Britnell is charged with eight counts of trafficking, one count of production and one count of possessing the proceeds of crime after the Saskatoon dispensary was raided by police.

Lawyer Mark Baerg said cannabis has offered his friend and client the best chance of managing his disease and patients like Britnell should have legal access to edibles and extracts.

“They are forced to choose between their health and their freedom … they shouldn’t have to make that choice,” Baerg said.

Authorities were firm that Britnell, dispensary owner Mark Hauk and others arrested are criminals, providing cannabis to people illegally.

“The novelty of my new freedom has yet to wear off, every day feels like a gift,” Britnell wrote earlier last month.

Britnell’s friends and family hope he will be free once again.