Veteran raises money to protest changes to medical marijuana coverage

A Fredericton veteran is raising money to send veterans to Ottawa to protest against coming changes in coverage for their medical marijuana prescriptions.

Noah Starr says he has anxiety over upcoming changes to coverage

Canadian veteran Noah Starr, who served in Afghanistan, is raising money to send as many veterans as possible to Ottawa to protest against changes to medical marijuana coverage (Cari Blanchard/CBC)
A Fredericton veteran is raising money to send veterans to Ottawa to protest against coming changes in coverage for their medical marijuana prescriptions.

Veteran Noah Starr, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Afghanistan, said the changes to medical marijuana coverage have taken a toll even before they go into effect.

"I already have anxiety about it," said Starr. "I won't lie.

"I know how effective it is for not only myself but for other retired Canadian Forces members."

Starr has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money so veterans with marijuana prescriptions for their PTSD can attend a protest scheduled for April 10.

The campaign had raised $885 by Monday afternoon. Starr has also started using the hashtag #itsourmedicine to raise awareness of the issue.

Changes announced last November

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr announced last November that the government would only cover three grams of medical marijuana a day, a sharp cut from the 10 grams covered now. The allowable amount could be greater if a specialist signed off on it. 

But Starr said rural veterans don't have access to specialists.

"Effectively, this cuts off a lot of veterans who are in more rural areas who don't have access to specialists," he said.

Medical marijuana misunderstood?

Starr has set up a page on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe and has raised $885 so far for veterans' expenses for the April protest in Ottawa. (Go Fund Me)

Starr also said there are misunderstood aspects of medical marijuana that may lead some people to believe that 10 grams is more than it really is. For instance,veterans aren't smoking 10 grams of marijuana to get high, he said. 

He used to take as many as 10 prescriptions multiple times a day to deal with his PTSD, and said it's confusing to him that the government would change access to a drug that has helped him.

"All I've ever wanted is to get better," said Starr. 

"I've just wanted to move on with my life. And I've actually found cannabis — it's taken me about 10 years to get to where I'm at right now."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton