How medical marijuana can help veterans suffering from PTSD

In Advocacy, PTSD, Top Stories by David Silverberg

A new report found how medical marijuana can help combat the many symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But how accessible is the medicine for those who need it most?

A Israeli study tested the effects of THC (the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) on 10 patients with severe PTSD, as MediJean writes. They were given 5 mg of THC oil twice a day for three weeks as an adjunct to the medications they were already on. “The results showed that the patients slept better and had fewer nightmares. The researchers concluded that cannabinoids were beneficial because they reduce REM sleep, the stage where dreams – or nightmares, in the case of PTSD patients – occur,” the report added.

“Since it is known that cannabis interferes with memory by erosion of the connection between affect and content we thought that this side effect will be beneficial in PTSD,” said Dr. Yehuda Baruch, an Israeli medical marijuana researcher who’s also the Israeli Health Ministry’s point of contact for issuing medicinal marijuana prescriptions.

But getting access can be difficult for some vets, as MediJean notes. New Brunswick resident Fabian Henry is a Canadian Armed Forces veteran with six deployments over 12 years of service in Africa, Haiti, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. He says that marijuana saved his life.

“I was on 9 pills a day and a raging alcoholic,” says Henry. “I only take one medicine a day now.”

Today, he is the CEO and founder of Marijuana 4 Trauma Inc., a company dedicated to helping veterans find access to the life-saving medicine they need. The company, barely three months old, so far has served 190 of the 15,000 Canadian veterans with PTSD.

Henry says the biggest obstacle that veterans face is finding a doctor who will prescribe them medical cannabis. That’s why his company has two doctors on board who understand the plant is an excellent treatment for PTSD. Vets from all over the country have been coming to him as though on a pilgrimage.

“I had a JTF Special Forces interrogator calling me in tears,” he says. “Four days later, I got him a prescription. A week later, he says we saved his life. Those stories happen all the time.”

Another hurdle that Henry points out is that Veteran Affairs Canada will pay for a veteran’s medical cannabis, but that veteran will not be able to use the occupational stress injury therapy center at the same time.

“These are clinics that veterans have to go to for therapy, and you’re not allowed to go to therapy if you’re on cannabis. That’s a big conflict,” says Henry.

For the full report, go here.