Medical cannabis reimbursements by Veterans Affairs Canada — the department within the Government of Canada with responsibility for pensions, benefits and services for war veterans —reached an all-time high last year.
In the 2020-21 year ended March 31, 15,369 retired and serving Armed Forces members were reimbursed a total of 119.3 million Canadian dollars ($100 million) for medical cannabis products. That’s a value that is more than Australia’s total medical marijuana market in 2020 and in weight terms, ahead of the European Union’s legal flower market for the same year.
It certainly suggests how useful veterans find cannabis in dealing with PTSD and chronic pain, which unfortunately are more common in this group than civilians.
Cannabis still isn’t proven for PTSD but it’s been historically difficult to study given the legal situation around marijuana. However a 2019 analysis of health survey data from more than 24,000 people concluded that those who have PTSD but do not medicate with cannabis are far more likely to suffer from severe depression and have suicidal thoughts, than those who reported cannabis use over the past year.
Miguel Martin, CEO of Aurora, the largest medical marijuana company in Canada told MJBizDaily: “Veterans serve a special role for us out of respect to their service, so we do things differently for (them) . In many cases, we are providing a concierge service to them.”
Spectrum Therapeutics, another Canadian medical cannabis company, also has dedicated channels to serve its Canadian veterans. On its website they promise pre-approval and direct billing for veterans as well the best in class medical-grade vaporizers.
This markedly contrasts with the situation in the US, where there is, at best, patchy availability to medical cannabis. The group Veterans Cannabis Project is fighting for US military veterans’ to get full, legal access and says that educating policymakers and the public about the value of cannabis to veterans is important to eliminate stigma.