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Canna-Therapy: A New Frontier in PTSD Treatment


Clif Uckerman, LCSW

Of the 15 qualifying conditions for Medical Cannabis in Utah, only one of them is a mental health condition: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

My name is Clif Uckerman. I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and I’m working with Utah Therapeutic Health Center to treat PTSD patients who can benefit from Medical Cannabis.

To qualify for Medical Cannabis in Utah, a PTSD patient needs to meet a couple of criteria:

1. Has a formal PTSD diagnosis from the VA, a psychiatrist, a masters-level psychologist, a psychiatric APRN, or a masters-level LCSW.

2. Is being treated and monitored by a licensed health therapist.

As a masters-level LCSW, I can help you with both! My partnership with UTTHC will help to streamline the process to make Medical Cannabis available for my patients.

Through this collaboration we can provide:

1. Reduced costs of therapy and cost-savings for the Medical Cannabis Card (initial visits and renewals)

2. Warm hand-offs from provider to provider, including the LCSW, the Qualified Medical Provider, and Pharmacy Medical Provider

3. Assistance with Utah’s Medical Cannabis Electronic Verification System (EVS)

4. Introduction and exposure to other alternative and complimentary wellness services that have been proven to enhance positive outcomes (quality of life and life satisfaction) as well as improve health and extend life.

Our behavioral health clinic accepts most major insurance carriers, and we accept payments through HSA and FSA accounts. We also have a discount program that can help you reduce the cost of your canna-therapy by up to 50%. Give us a call at 801-851-5554 to go over your payment options.

How to Apply

As mentioned earlier, a PTSD patient needs a formal diagnosis and ongoing therapy to be eligible for a Utah Medical Cannabis Card.

Once we diagnose someone with PTSD, we can move forward with their therapy, including assistance with the next steps in applying for a Medical Cannabis Card.

After receiving a PTSD diagnosis, the patient will then need to speak with a Qualified Medical Provider for a Medical Cannabis recommendation.

The state asks new Medical Cannabis patients to allow up to two weeks for their cards to be approved and sent – but we often see cards issued within 24 hours.


Many PTSD patients prefer inhalation to other cannabis delivery methods.

PTSD and Canna-Therapy in Utah

PTSD is the second-most-common qualifying condition for which people seek Medical Cannabis recommendations in Utah.

A recent report from the Utah Department of Health shows about 4,000 PTSD patients have been issued Medical Cannabis Cards. That figure represents about 11% of the total number of Utah’s Medical Cannabis cardholders.

When you first enter therapy for PTSD, your therapist will use some standard questionnaires to help assess your mental health. You’ll talk about the life events that led to your trauma and the symptoms associated with it.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, you and your therapist can work together to develop an ongoing trauma-focused treatment plan. With these two requirements met, we’ll refer you to one of our Qualified Medical Providers to talk about cannabis.

Our staff will help you with the entire process of getting your Medical Cannabis Card. Once you have your card, you can shop at any of Utah’s cannabis pharmacies.

The QMP you meet with may or may not have specific suggestions for cannabis products and delivery methods for you to try. In either case, a Pharmacy Medical Provider (PMP) at your local cannabis pharmacy can help you make those initial decisions.

Keeping Track of Your Cannabis Treatment

Now that you have access to Medical Cannabis, you can begin to incorporate it into your PTSD  treatment. You’ll continue meeting with your therapist for one-on-one trauma-focused treatment planning.

I encourage and affirm my patients who use cannabis to treat PTSD. Through my own practice, I’ve personally witnessed some of the positive changes cannabis can have for PTSD patients.

If you’re working with a Canna-Therapist like me, we’ll talk about ways to infuse your treatment with a Medical Cannabis regimen. Cannabis is just one of the tools we’ll talk about to help you manage PTSD symptoms.

When using cannabis as part of PTSD treatment, our goal is to improve the patient’s life satisfaction and quality of life. To that end, we need to know what’s working and what isn’t so we can make adjustments.

That’s why I always recommend keeping track of the cannabis strains, delivery methods, ratios, and doses you use to treat your condition. This information helps you get the best possible treatment, and it helps me make better recommendations for my other patients.

Each of my patients can rest assured knowing that the cannabis treatment plan we develop together is customized for that person’s specific needs. For this to work, we need to keep track of any positive or negative effects that Medical Cannabis may have.

There may be a bit of “trial and error” as you begin using cannabis therapeutically. We can start with some basic recommendations, but you may find other ratios, doses, strains, or delivery methods work better.

Keeping notes about your Medical Cannabis use helps to make the most of your therapy.

Canna-Therapy Philosophies and Guiding Principles

I believe a Canna-Therapist should be a values-driven and leadership-oriented medical provider. By keeping an open-door policy for my patients and fellow healthcare providers, we can always have clear communication.

Working with cannabis can sometimes make us feel isolated from the rest of the medical community. My patients and staff know their thoughts, opinions, and ideas are valuable in sustaining Utah’s Medical Cannabis program. None of us is more or less capable than our peers of bringing positive changes to this industry.

As healthcare providers and patients, we owe it to ourselves to keep learning as much as we can about Medical Cannabis. By keeping up with the latest research and emerging trends, we can continue refining our approach to cannabis medicine. Our patients get the greatest benefit from cannabis when we’ve been able to make informed recommendations.

Cannabis has massive therapeutic potential, but it also has risks and contraindications to consider. Although cannabis is a powerful tool in treating PTSD, Canna-Therapists should keep the potential for abuse in mind. We recognize that cannabis can be misprescribed or overprescribed, so our recommendations should reflect the patient’s actual needs.

When working with patients who use cannabis, we encourage them to focus on the plant’s legitimate medicinal value. We try to help them keep a medicinal, rather than a recreational, mindset when thinking about their cannabis use. We also want to help our patients understand how to remain in compliance with state law after receiving their cards.

We recognize that every person we treat has a unique set of life circumstances and needs. We’ll be glad to help you figure out the best ways to incorporate cannabis into a healthy and happy lifestyle. Call (801) 851-5554 to schedule a Canna-Therapy consultation.

By Clifton Uckerman, LCSW
Program Director at
Published February 13, 2022
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