Veteran Walking to Ottawa to Draw Attention to Changes to VAC’s Medical Cannabis Program

Article by David Brown, Lift

Veteran walking to Ottawa to draw attention to changes to VAC’s medical cannabis program

To protest against and draw attention to the proposed reduction of medical cannabis reimbursement from Veteran’s Affairs Canada, Fabian Henry is walking from Moncton, New Brunswick, to Ottawa.

Henry is the CEO and Founder of Marijuana for Trauma (MFT), a private, veteran-owned medical cannabis resource centre that helps educate people how to access and understand cannabis for various issues, specializing in PTSD. The proposed changes, he says, puts Veterans who are finding success with medical cannabis at risk.

Last November, Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr announced the federal government was cutting the amount of medical cannabis provided to veterans from 10 grams to 3 grams per day. VAC covers the cost of medical cannabis to approved veterans and the program had grown from a handful of participants in 2008, with a cost of about $19,000, to over 3,000 last year, with $31 million in claims. Department officials said that amount was set to rise to $75 million by the end of 2016. The average amount of cannabis prescribed under Health Canada’s medical cannabis program is just under 3 grams a day, according to Health Canada figures.

Veterans like Henry, however, who have seen firsthand the benefit of cannabis on those struggling with issues like PTSD, say the cost is not as important as people’s lives. These lives are put at risk by these proposed cuts, he says, as they have come to rely on cannabis as they move off of “pharmaceutical medications.”

To protest these changes, he’s been walking every day since Dec. 12 in remembrance of those who died in Afghanistan, he says, posting pictures on social media each day of the soldier he is walking for, as well as images from his walk.

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