Fabian Henry spent 12 years serving in Canada’s military before being released with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He founded Marijuana For Trauma, a veteran-operated group that helps other veterans with PTSD get cannabinoid therapy.
"Founder says doctors who refuse to prescribe cannabis contribute to crime"
Fabian Henry hasn’t been able to find a single doctor in Newfoundland and Labrador who will prescribe medical marijuana — the drug he says saved his life.
Henry is the founder Marijuana For Trauma (MFT), a veteran-owned and -operated company 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, Ont., to help clients obtain prescriptions.
The straight dope
“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.”
And people here are getting it, he said.
“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 shop in St. John’s, more than 50 clients have walked through MFT’s doors to avail of resources and peer support. 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, and with 4,000-5,000 vets in this province, there are bound to be a few with PTSD here.
Turned life around
Henry would not have been alive to help other veterans if he hadn’t discovered medical marijuana. After six deployments in 12 years of service with the Canadian military, he was released in 2012 for PTSD.
“From 2007 when I was diagnosed to 2012, I tried the traditional nine pills a day that were given to me, and I almost killed myself, and almost killed someone else. And then in 2010 I tried cannabis for the first time, and I gave up every prescription except for that in the last five years. I’ve been doing much, much better,” he said, adding he also finds yoga, and spending time with his children and in nature, therapeutic.
“It literally saved my life. It allowed me to be present and be with my kids again, allowed me to function. I lost my family. I lost my wife and my house and everything I worked for because of PTSD. I never found cannabis by then. But when I did — I’m just grateful one day at a time, and I just want to help as many people as I can understand cannabis.”
No pill like it
“We’re getting lots of support from the people, as far as I can tell. It’s more about educating the higher levels.”Marijuana For Trauma founder Fabian Henry
So how does cannabis help with PTSD?
“The scientific thing that’s happening, in a nutshell, is that there’s a drop in anandamide and a spike in CD1 receptors. And heating THC up to a specific temperature levels out those receptors and makes us feel normal,” Henry said.
“There’s actually no pill in the world developed specifically for PTSD that can do that. And I’ve taken every pill and I’ve never gotten relief. And I’ve heard the same story over and over.”
While MFT’s focus is on helping veterans find that relief, Henry said the group helps others who ask. “I help as many civilians. We have tons of civilians as well — cancer patients, chronic pain people — we can’t turn them away. It’s really hard, so we try to prioritize veterans and help everybody if we can,” he said.
Henry has big plans for MFT, which is run by volunteers. Now operating in Oromocto, N.B., St. John’s, Markham, Ont., and Sydney, N.S., he hopes to see it become a household name one day.
“I have a five-year vision to have 50 clinics across Canada,” he said, adding he sees some of that expansion happening in Labrador and in western Newfoundland.
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,” he said.
MFT is immersed in legal action that Henry said is holding the company back from growing. His company launched a lawsuit against Organigram Holdings Inc. last month alleging Organigram Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary, breached an agreement, denying MFT its part in Trauma Healing Centers Inc.
The Moncton-based medical marijuana supplier responded with legal action of its own, calling MFT’s allegations “inaccurate and defamatory.”
“We intend to defend these false claims vigorously in court and intend to file a counter claim against MFT,” Organigram said in a news release on its website.
Henry was directed not to comment on the legal action while it’s underway, but he said MFT is waiting until it’s finalized before going ahead with expansion plans. In the meantime, he said, the company will continue growing “organically.”
“That’s the best way to do it. We’re not out there pushing it on anyone.
They come to us.”