Clinic aims to help veterans ease PTSD with medical marijuana

Marijuana for Trauma was founded in 2013 by two military veterans in Oromocto, N.B. The company operates twelve clinics across the country. Edmonton is the first location in western Canada.
Riley McGee smoked marijuana to help ease his PTSD he acquired while serving in Afghanistan. He now works as the western Canadian director of operations for Marijuana for Trauma. (Emilio Avalos/CBC)

A new clinic which opened in Edmonton on Saturday will help first responders and veterans suffering from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder get access to medical marijuana.

Marijuana for Trauma was founded in 2013  by two military veterans in Oromocto, N.B. The company operates twelve clinics across the country. Edmonton is the first location in western Canada.

The clinics do not dispense marijuana. Instead, staff help people get access to doctors and producers of legal medical marijuana. They also provide support and wellness programs.

Riley McGee, the company's western Canadian director of operations, came to the company after struggling with PSTD he developed while serving with the military in Afghanistan.

McGee sold real estate after leaving the Canadian Forces but his symptoms remained. He started smoking marijuana in the evenings and found it helped.

Francois Halle, a medical doctor, is the clinical liaison for Marijuana for Trauma. (Emilio Avalos/CBC)

"When you use the cannabis, it calms you and levels you and makes you feel normal," he said. "We're not using it to feel stoned. We're using it to feel normal."

Former military medic Francois Halle, a physician and the organization's research director, said people with PTSD can't control the overwhelming memories that result when they are triggered.

"What happens with medical marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) will stimulate those receptors again preventing those memories from being overwhelming," Halle said.

The company is opening a clinic in Winnipeg in December, which will be its second location west of the Ontario-Manitoba border.