A unique support centre for military veterans and first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) opened in south Edmonton Saturday.
Marijuana for Trauma is hoping to help heal emotional wounds suffered by soldiers, paramedics and police officers by helping them access medical-grade cannabis.
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Capt. Kevin Doherty, a 28-year member of Toronto Fire Services, is advocating for additional supports for first responders who might have post-traumatic stress disorder. Report finds first responders experiencing PTSD rates similar to combat veterans
“This is special,” Fabian Henry, Marijuana for Trauma CEO and co-founder, said. “We’re bringing in the people who are lost and putting a soul back in their body.”
Henry said his own personal experience with PTSD and struggling to get treatment makes him a firm believer his stores are addressing a need and also why they won’t be charging veterans for product.
“I never had coverage and I had to spend $37,000 dollars of my PTSD claim that Veterans Affairs gave me to buy my medicine from the street because they didn’t understand it at the time,” he said. “I don’t want any veteran to have to pay anything for a medicine to save their life.”
While there is no cost to military veterans, civilians seeking to use the store’s services will have to pay a $99 first-time fee. Patients who have received a diagnosis can be connected with prescribing doctors and access to cannabis through certified providers.
In May, Canada’s auditor general issued a report recommending Veterans Affairs clamp down on costs associated with medical marijuana as they could potentially rise to up to $25 million this year alone.
Marijuana for Trauma’s director of operations has also been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of his experiences as a soldier.
“I’m 10 years into cannabinoid therapy,” Riley McGee said. “I know it works. I feel that I am an example that it works and I consider myself very lucky that I didn’t have to go down (the) pharmaceutical road.”
The Edmonton opening marks the first time the group has opened a location in western Canada. Marijuana for Trauma has 11 other stores across the country.