Fabian Henry hasn’t been able to find a single doctor in Newfoundland and Labrador who will prescribe medical cannabis. Henry is the founder Marijuana for Trauma (MFT), a veteran owned-and-operated organization that helps veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) find relief with cannabinoid therapy. MFT recently expanded into Newfoundland, opening a clinic on Peet Street in St. John’s in May. But so far, he said, the group has had to rely on a clinic in Barrie, ON, to help clients obtain prescriptions.
“Right now we’re relying on telemedicine from a different province, when in my opinion, Newfoundland should step up and help their own people by providing a doctor who’s compassionate,” said Henry.
“By not medically prescribing this to those who deserve it, you’re contributing, basically, to illegal activity, because they have to get it somewhere.”
Henry continued, “I’m telling you right now there’s a lot of Newfies who smoke marijuana. Medical or not, they’re getting relief. It’s still cannabis. So we’re getting lots of support from the people, as far as I can tell. It’s more about educating the higher levels.”
Since opening up a centre in St. John’s, more than 50 clients have walked through MFT’s doors. Henry said there are a lot more veterans in the province who could benefit from the service. There are about 15,000 vets in Canada diagnosed with PTSD, he said, with 4,000-5,000 vets in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I have a five-year vision to have 50 clinics across Canada,” Henry said.
He said at first the organization was challenged by stigma — both about PTSD and cannabinoid therapy — but with time and education it has gained a lot of support. “It’s going to take some time. “But I think through our group — through veterans with PTSD — we’ve surpassed the death toll in the entire conflict in Afghanistan by suicide now. We’ve lost 158 to the war in Afghanistan and we’re now at 180 suicides. So it’s hard for them to look at us and say that you don’t deserve cannabis. We’re getting somewhere with it, you know what I mean? We’re beating the stigma.”