Article by Justin Ling, Vice
The Canadian government is getting gouged on its veteran medical marijuana program, and a VICE News investigation has revealed the likely culprits.
According to figures provided by Veterans Affairs Canada, the number of retired soldiers obtaining medical marijuana from the government saw a staggering 15-fold increase over just three years, with a corresponding 50-time increase in cost.
From just 112 veterans on the plan in 2013, the federal government now covers the medical marijuana prescriptions for 1,762 veterans nation-wide. The cost has gone from $400,000 to $20 million in that time. That’s a jump of 5,000 percent.
The problem, first highlighted by a report in 2015 by the Auditor General, appears to be the result of an aggressive campaign to sign-up veterans and prescribe them expensive strains of marijuana, the cost of which is billed directly to the government.
“Marijuana for medical purposes became the highest-cost item paid for under the drug component of its Health Care Benefits Program,” the report reads, adding that costs are estimated to rise to $25 million in this fiscal year — “which would amount to almost a third of the drug costs under its Health Care Benefits Program.”
VICE News has now learned that government regulators are looking at closing loopholes and potentially going after the groups responsible. That new policy is anticipated by May of 2017.