The number of Canadian veterans getting medical cannabis reimbursements continues to reach new highs, recent data shows.
According to Veterans Affairs Canada, a record $119,264,105 was paid out to 15,369 clients for medical cannabis products over the 2020–2021 fiscal year, ending Mar. 31. Over that period, 14,463,796 grams were reimbursed.
The total costs of reimbursements climbed 40 per cent from $85,151,847 paid out to 13,270 clients the year before. RCMP pensioners are not included in the data.
The department’s decision to reimburse veterans for cannabis used for medical reasons began in 2007. Both the number of reimbursements and costs have been going up since then.
“Currently, cannabis is authorized for a variety of medical conditions, however scientific evidence substantiating the efficacy and safety of cannabis is lacking,” the department’s website reads. “Cannabis for medical purposes is an evolving area of treatment. The Department will continue to review and analyze information to ensure decisions are based on the best available evidence, and will adjust the policy, as needed, to ensure the well-being of our veterans and their families.”
Three grams of daily medical cannabis is covered by veterans’ benefits in Canada, or up to 10 grams in special cases.
Ontario clinic Avail Cannabis has been studying how cannabis can help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A Veterans Affairs Canada study found 24 per cent of veterans reported PTSD, compared to 1 per cent of Canadians of similar age and sex.