Interview: Fabian D. Henry of Marijuana for Trauma

After three years of jumping through hoops and securing a legal source with a doctor’s prescription, Fabian D. Henry’s plans for cannabis treatment for veterans were finally realized. Despite the heavy stigma surrounding cannabis, especially in the military, Fabian’s organization, Marijuana for Trauma (MFT), expanded to four centres in four provinces after only 14 months in operation. Although the Veteran Affairs Office has offered little to no help, MFT has been grateful for the coverage currently provided. If a veteran has a service-related injury, the VA Office will credit any expenses that injury may cause. For Fabian and others, that means not having to worry about paying for up to ten grams of cannabis per day from an LP, as in order to receive their reimbursement, a veteran must go through the MMPR.

This predicament puts MFT in a unique position. Even though Fabian doesn’t think the LPs are providing “dignified access”, (citing the average price of $10-a-gram) without them there is no other way to get the reimbursement. “You could never get it through a dispensary,” Fabian said, “because they’re technically illegal. The only reimbursement is through an LP, so our group is pretty much the most viable group in the country when it comes to the MMPR. We’re the only coverage in the entire country.”

Essentially, if veterans currently getting their medical cannabis reimbursed were able to get that same exemption from independent cannabis farmers, then the LPs would likely suffer a blow from which they would never recover. Far from being some “free market” system, the LPs are relying on taxpayers to subsidize veterans who are buying their cannabis. Without these reimbursements, what motivation would a veteran have to purchase from an LP? Without these reimbursements, would the LPs have any sales at all? And can we really call them “sales” when it’s coming from the taxpayer?

Nevertheless, PTSD remains a large problem for returning soldiers from Afghanistan. Fabian mentioned that PTSD is rampant in those who have been deployed to Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Croatia.

“Your brain is trained a certain way for a year before deployment,” said Fabian. “You go there desensitized, somewhat. You react to situations, you don’t actually have time to process anything because you have to get up the next morning and go and do the same thing again. So there’s no time to sit back and process anything… When you get back from the war… it all starts to coming back on how close you may have been dying, or seeing somebody die or being part of an explosion, or, you know, returning fire. There’s all kind of incidents that happen daily and are just normal in that environment.”

Fabian added that it’s when these men and women come back that they realize none of what they did was normal. As a consequence, the military is indirectly promoting alcoholism, gambling, drugs, and addiction because soldiers are trained to not to deal with their everyday reality. When they come back, the nightmares come back with them. They don’t know how to deal with a “normal” environment.

That’s why Fabian sees cannabinoid therapy as crucial for returning vets, especially those afflicted with PTSD like himself. “It allows you to be present,” he told CinC. “It allows you to settle down and relax your mind, and not freak out… It gives you that time you need to process what’s going on.”

Nevertheless, Fabian isn’t overly excited for the joint clinical study on PTSD and cannabis between licensed producer Tilray and the University of British Columbia. “It’s all heresay until I see something happen,” he said, referring to the study as more about stock prices than actually helping patients.