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Concerns raised over medical marijuana promotion at new N.S. veterans centre
A new facility in Sydney seeking to fill the void left when the Veterans Affairs office there closed is receiving mixed reviews because it promotes the use of medical marijuana.
The new centre, operated by the New Brunswick-based company Marijuana For Trauma Inc., officially opened on Monday.
Veterans representing different Legion branches in the area were among the first through the doors, receiving a tour from the facility’s operators.
While some veterans made it clear the centre’s promotion of marijuana didn’t sit well with them, others embrace it as a medicine.
“I can't describe it,” said Robert MacPhee, who served in the Navy for 15 years.
He says marijuana has limited the side-effects of the prescription drugs he takes, and has helped with his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“I've waited 18 years for some help, and this is a Godsend,” he said. “And that's all I can say.”
Veteran Ron Clarke says some people’s wariness often boils down to a lack of understanding.
“They just don't understand,” said Clarke.
“There were people who came in here this morning who I talked to. They were inquisitive, and they thought this was just a place where people could come and smoke up their hash.”
According to Veterans Affairs, about 600 veterans now use medical marijuana, which is up from about 100 users a year ago.
Although Sydney’s Marijuana For Trauma centre promotes its use, there is actually no marijuana on site.
“We just facilitate the patient-to-doctor relationship, do all the paperwork for them, educate them on cannabis, provide vaporizing education and cooking classes to deliver both methods,” said Marijuana For Trauma founder Fabian Henry.
Workers at the centre will also help veterans do paperwork to receive their benefits, filling a void left after the Veterans Affairs office in Sydney closed in 2014.
New centre or not, Clarke says he and others will keep up the fight to have the government reopen the Veterans Affairs offices that were closed in several towns across the country.
“We are going to travel across Canada and rally in every city that (the prime minister) closed the offices in,” Clarke said.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore