The Ministry of Veterans Affairs is undertaking an internal review after reimbursement for medical cannabis rose over 1,000 per cent in the last two years, at a cost of $12.1 million from Apr. 1 to the end of 2015.
Minister Kent Hehr has launched the review to look at the increase in veterans accessing medical cannabis hoping to create a framework around the reimbursement. Currently the government will pay for 10 grams of cannabis a day but doesn’t keep track of conditions its prescribed for.
“The fact that the former government let this program evolve from 2007 onward without a policy, an informed policy based on the wellness of veterans and their families, frankly shocked me,” Hehr said.
Canadians Veterans Advocacy director Sylvain Chartrand said many veterans use cannabis to cope with PTSD and the recent spike may not reflect a new wave of users.
“There’s an influx, but people were using it before and just not getting paid for it,” Chartrand said.
The Canadian Forces said it doesn’t endorse the use of cannabis as PTSD treatment and that they have evidence that it may be harmful.
In 2013-14, 112 veterans were reimbursed for medical cannabis, followed by 628 and now, after nine months of the fiscal year, 1,320 have been reimbursed.
Hehr said the review will be completed in the next few months.