Veterans’ Reimbursement for Medical Marijuana to be ‘Substantially’ Reduced as Bill Soars

Article by John Ivison, National Post

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Veterans Affairs Canada is set to “reduce substantially” the amount of medical marijuana for which retired soldiers can seek reimbursement, after new projections revealed the cost is set to rise to $90 million — 18 times more than the amount paid out two years ago.

The program under which veterans could access marijuana for medical purposes was introduced in 2008-09 and by the end of the year there were just five recipients being reimbursed $19,000.

A government source, not authorized to speak publicly, said there are currently 3,300 users — double the number from official statistics released in March — and the department has projected the program will cost $90 million in the current fiscal year, if trends continue. To put that in context, the government spends approximately $247 million a year on all health treatments for veterans.

Kent Hehr, the Veterans Affairs minister, said in March he would review the issue and he is expected to announce a dramatic reduction in the amount the department will reimburse from the current 10 grams a day. It is understood veterans will still be able to access whatever amount of marijuana authorized by their doctor but the government will not reimburse at current levels, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The government has not publicly made the allegation but a source suggested that, while many veterans are using the drug for legitimate pain relief, others may be stockpiling or reselling it.

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