Article by Kristen Everson, CBC News
Veterans who use medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder are having to go outside the network of clinics sanctioned by Veterans Affairs to get the drug due to concerns by doctors at the clinics about its effectiveness.
The last operational stress injury clinic to prescribe medical marijuana to former soldiers stopped doing so in January, citing a lack of research and concerns it might even be doing more harm than good.
“The physician’s Hippocratic oath is that above all you should do no harm,” said Dr. Anthony Njoku of the OSI clinic in Fredericton.
“These are people … who are struggling. You don’t want to be the one who’s added on top of that all in the vain attempt at helping them. You then end up making them much worse,” he said.
The decision by the clinic to stop prescribing medical cannabis is mentioned in an undated briefing note prepared for the deputy minister of Veterans Affairs and obtained by CBC News under access to information.
The department has struggled with its policy on medical marijuana for veterans. In May, the department lowered the daily limit for medical cannabis prescriptions covered by veterans’ benefits to three grams a day, down from 10 grams, after an internal review found reimbursements to veterans for medical cannabis had shot up over the past decade.
The new policy allowed for higher amounts if the patient obtained authorization from a medical specialist.
But with the OSI clinics no longer prescribing cannabis, veterans with mental illnesses have one less place to turn to get a psychiatrist’s approval.