Nearly three-quarters of veterans using medical cannabis will be impacted when the Trudeau government imposes a new maximum on the amount it’ll pay for, according to an internal Veterans Affairs Canada audit.
A new report says 74% of veterans whose pot is financed by the feds use more than three grams per day — which will put them over the three-gram daily max set to start in May.
The report also found one in three veterans claim to use as much as 10 grams — the current maximum daily amount.
The Liberal government has pointed to fast-rising costs and a supposed lack of evidence about its medical benefits in defending the decision to scale back the amount it will cover, which the audit found will affect hundreds of veterans.
Critics have questioned how exactly they decided on three grams per day in the first place, and they’ve raised concerns about the negative impact on veterans who need more than three grams to deal with their physical or mental injuries.
Veterans Affairs has paid for medical pot for veterans since 2008, following a court decision requiring reasonable access when authorized by a health-care practitioner.
The number of clients – and the associated cost – has shot up since 2014, when regulatory changes at Health Canada and a new Veterans Affairs policy allowed up to 10 grams per day.
According to the audit, more than 1,700 injured ex-soldiers were being reimbursed for medical marijuana as of the end of last March. Just 26 per cent were getting three grams or less each day.
The question of how much medical marijuana is enough has been hotly debated since November, when Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr said he was scaling back the maximum limit.
“This policy has the health and well-being of veterans and their families at its heart,” said Hehr. “Veterans Affairs will continue to monitor developments in the field of marijuana for medical purposes and as new information becomes available we will be flexible, adapt and adjust as required.”
The move came amid revelations that the cost of medical marijuana for vets had grown from $408,000 in 2013-14 to more than $20 million last year.