A veteran’s support group is trying to bring attention to the benefits of medical marijuana to treat several illnesses, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Marijuana for Trauma is an east coast based veteran owned and operated company whose mission is to improve the quality of life for those suffering from PTSD, chronic pain and other conditions.
Group spokesperson Ryan Edwards said PTSD or other trauma can cause impacts on the brain where chemicals become unbalanced.
“Marijauana, when it’s injected or smoked or even eaten, allows us to reset those receptors in our brain, it allows us, basically, to feel normal again,’ said Edwards.
Edwards said the group primarily serves veterans with injuries due to their service, but also assists civilians that are experiencing the same issues, like EMS responders, firefighters and retired police officers.
Marijuana For Trauma assists patients in completing necessary Department of Veterans Affairs claim paperwork. The group’s website boasts that clients may be eligible to have 100 per cent of their medical cannabis covered by the department.
Edwards said the group has been operating since Health Canada originally allowed for medical marijauana prescriptions and, since then, the veteran’s organization has adapted to every iteration of the program.
“It’s not a new thing, it’s been changed a lot,” said Edwards. “[The] only way to legally access cannabis is through the licensed producer program.”
“The problem with that is that, the majority of patients, especially civilians, is they can’t afford to pay the prices that these licensed producers are charging.”
Earlier in March, Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr launched an internal review of the ministry’s payment program for medical marijauana after year-over-year increases in costs.
In 2013-14, the office paid $409,000 for medical cannabis, jumping to $5.2 million the following fiscal year, and then, more than doubling to $12.1 million within the next nine months.
Veterans being reimbursed through he program grew from 112 to 1,320.
The ministry is looking to create policy around the program, something Hehr said the previous Conservative government didn’t do.
“What we have to look at is best practices around the world; what other militaries are doing and veterans’ communities,” Hehr said. “At the end of the day, we have to look at this with science, reason and common sense.”