Yukoner decries new limits on medical marijuana for veterans

Whitehorse veteran Darcy Grossinger says he doesn't use medical pot himself, but has many friends who do. He thinks the government's decision to reduce the amount it covers is arbitrary and unfair.

Darcy Grossinger says Ottawa's plan to reduce the amount of pot it covers for veterans is unfair

Whitehorse veteran Darcy Grossinger worries that his friends who use medical marijuana and need more than 3 grams per day will have trouble getting approval. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

A veteran in Whitehorse is not impressed with the federal government's decision to cut back the amount of medical marijuana it will cover for people who have served in the military.

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr plans to scale back the limit for reimbursement from 10 grams of medical marijuana per day to three.

Whitehorse vet Darcy Grossinger says he doesn't use pot himself, but has many friends who do. He thinks the decision to reduce the reimbursements is arbitrary and unfair.

"Everyone says, 'this is what works for me'. If they're saying it's working for them, then [federal officials] have got no right to do what they are doing."

"People have some kind of idea that this is a party. No — this is medicine, being used medicinally."

Number of prescriptions up

Last March, Minister Hehr told CBC News he was launching an internal policy review, after data showed the number of medical marijuana prescriptions had shot up.

Veterans will be allowed to continue charging for their current amount until May 21, 2017. There will also be an exception for veterans in "exceptional circumstances." A psychiatrist, pain specialist, oncologist or other health specialist would have to submit an application explaining the rationale for a larger quantity.

That doesn't satisfy Grossinger, who says vets don't always have ready access to medical specialists.

"I've been without a G.P. for two years now. I just got one. If I were to see a pain specialist — or put myself on a waiting list — I'm looking at years."

Hehr has said the changes were just the "starting  point" and that it was his intention to revisit the changes in the policy to ensure they reflect the best research, practice and experience.

With files from Cheryl Kawaja and Catherine Cullen


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