Canada puts in new rules for prescribing medical marijuana to veterans
The Canadian government is slashing the limit on how much veterans can be prescribed under federal rules, from 10 grams per day to just three, and putting a hard cap on how much marijuana should cost, at $8.50 a gram.
That brings the rules in line with Health Canada recommendations, and may help curb runaway costs for the Veterans Affairs Canada drug insurance program.
VICE News wrote last week that the program was facing staggering cost overruns, while fears abound that veterans were being prescribed far more marijuana than needed.
“This is just our starting point,” promised Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr in making the announcement. He blasted the previous government for dispensing marijuana to veterans “with no policy in place.
“It’s time to change that.”
The new rules are not absolute. Veterans who are currently receiving more than the three grams will be able to continue getting the drugs until May 21 of the coming year, and any veteran who wishes to continue receiving more of the plant will need a special exemption.
Issues with the current system can be traced back to licensed marijuana producers and vendors like Aphria, and marijuana consultancy groups like Marijuana For Trauma.
Aphria, in shareholder documents, bragged that veteran patients — who make up a significant chunk of their patient and revenue base — use “five times more than the average…patient.”
In the postal code where Marijuana For Trauma operates, there were 115 patients and more than 200,000 grams of marijuana sold in 2015 — working out to roughly five grams of marijuana per veteran per day. The average cost works out to more than $12 per gram in that same postal code.
Cover: Anthony Tuccitto/VICE News