Article by Devon Scoble, Lift
Last year, Veteran’s Affairs Canada (VAC) announced new limitations to funding for marijuana prescriptions after an auditor general’s report found federal spending had increased from just under $20 thousand in 2008 to $31 million in 2016, representing 8 per cent of the overall medications budget for Canadian vets.
The limitations will come into effect this May, reducing individual vets’ prescription coverage from the current limit of ten grams per day, to no more than 3 grams a day, and imposing a coverage cap of $8.50 per gram. Veterans with medical approval will still be able to purchase medical cannabis beyond these limits, but at their own expense.
Veterans Affairs Canada says there is simply not enough clinical data to justify a 10 gram a day allowance, and that the new rules will bring veterans’ prescriptions in line with other Canadians, who are rarely prescribed more than three grams per day.
But many veterans argue that they are not average citizens, that a military career is more likely to lead to injury, chronic pain, anxiety, and PTSD. They say cannabis has helped them come off opiates, anti-depressants, and a raft of other pharmaceuticals, and that Veterans Affairs Canada would rather cut costs than attend to their health. For their part, VAC says the prescription numbers tell no such story.
Clayton Goodwin and Craig Forsberg are two among the thousands of Canadian Forces veterans who have medical cannabis prescriptions, and who are anxious about the coming changes. Goodwin is a former reservist who uses cannabis to treat an operational stress injury he received while on military duty in the Arctic. Forsberg also suffered a service injury, and says his cannabis prescription has helped him come off the 27 various pharmaceuticals he’s been prescribed for chronic pain, including psych meds he was given to help cope with the pain’s mental side effects. Between them they have nearly 27 years of military service.