Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr announced yesterday plans to scale back the limit for reimbursement from 10 grams of medical marijuana per day to three, with an exception for Veterans in "exceptional circumstances". The new policy will take effect in May 2017. Hehr indicated this decision is in response to rising prescriptions, rising associated costs, and a lack of policy on prescribing medical marijuana.
Yet questions remain about the circumstance associated with the rising prescriptions and costs, and whether these increases may be offset by a significant reduction in alternate medicines treating similar health issues.
Further research is needed to understand the increase in prescriptions, the efficacy of cannabinoid-based therapy, and the full financial implications of reimbursement. As well, the medical community must establish effective policies and standards to prescribe, treat and monitor patients using medical marijuana to ensure the care and wellbeing of Canada’s Veterans.
In early November the Legion sent a letter to the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Veterans Affairs urging the Government to research medical marijuana to ensure safe treatment for Veterans. While the Legion is pleased to hear Veterans Affairs Canada plans to revisit medical marijuana to ensure the policy reflects latest research and best practices, with this latest announcement it is clear that research must become a priority, both to ensure cannabinoid-based therapy is a safe method of treatment, and to ensure it is prescribed correctly and duly reimbursed. Canada’s ill and injured Veterans who require medical marijuana today cannot be left to contend with arbitrary policies around medical marijuana.