Pubdate: Tue, 20 Jun 2017
Source: Penticton Herald (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Richard Cannings
Page: A6


Last Friday afternoon the House of Commons adjourned for the day with
a rare event - a unanimous vote in favour of a private members bill
from an opposition party.

Bill C-211 instructs the government to create a federal framework to
better deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

I've heard a lot about PTSD from people in my riding - it may surprise
some how serious a problem this is in our communities, how widespread
and how debilitating. And it bears repeating that PTSD not only
impacts men and women who have served in our armed forces in actions

It can be triggered by basic training exercises. And it is
unfortunately common among first responders who repeatedly attend
horrific accident and disaster scenes, those who counsel people who
have experienced these events, and even jurors who have to hear about
and view details of terrible crimes.

There is little help available for first responders with PTSD in
British Columbia, so I'm encouraged to see that Bill C-211 asks for
collaboration with all levels of government.

A constituent of mine, a veteran, suffers from both pain from his
injuries and PTSD from his experiences. He was once on a debilitating
regimen of over 30 pills a day. He turned to medical marijuana and
found that that turned his life around. He could once again take part
in his community and enjoy life.

But last month Veterans Affairs Canada cut back the amount of cannabis
that veterans could use from ten grams per day to three. Since that
action, he has suffered the worst six weeks of his life. His
nightmares have returned and he is only getting three hours of sleep.
He was told that this cut was implemented because there wasn't enough
science to support the dose levels.

Instead, he has been offered to take part in a trial using psilocybin
or MDMA.

Why can't he use the cannabis dose that gave him his life back instead
of trying new, stronger hallucinogens? He was told that he could get a
letter of exception to allow him to go back to his former dose of
cannabis, but he needs to get that letter signed by a specialist
willing and able to see him. The earliest appointment he can arrange
is September, and that will require travel to Victoria at his own expense.

This doesn't just affect him. There have been three suicides in his
network of PTSD sufferers who use cannabis since this cutback was
implemented, lives needlessly taken because Veterans Affairs refused
to listen to the men and women suffering from PTSD.

On Friday afternoon, all parties came together to move this bill
quickly through Parliament. We all supported it because it would
compel the government to act, to listen to PTSD sufferers across the
country, and to experts from around the world. We need to find a
better way to support the men and women suffering from this condition.
After their sacrifices in the armed forces, first response teams and
other duties, it is the least we can do.

- --------------------------------------------------------------

Richard Cannings is Member of Parliament for South Okanagan-West 
Kootenay and member of the NDP caucus
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt