Toronto

Ottawa on track to spend $200M per year on cannabis for veterans

The federal government is reimbursing a record number of veterans for their medical marijuana.

Ottawa spent $150M+ in last fiscal year, more than double 3 years prior

Demand for medical marijuana among Canada's veterans has surged since a 2008 court decision required the government to provide reasonable access to the drug when authorized by a health-care practitioner. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

The federal government is reimbursing a record number of veterans for their medical marijuana.

New figures show Ottawa shelled out more than 150 million dollars in the last fiscal year — more than double the amount just three years ago.

The figures from Veterans Affairs Canada show the government is on track to spend nearly 200 million dollars this year as thousands more former service members ask the government to pay for their cannabis each year.

Demand for medical marijuana among Canada's veterans has surged since a 2008 court decision required the government to provide reasonable access to the drug when authorized by a health-care practitioner.

That surge has only accelerated in recent years despite an overhaul in November 2016 of the way the government reimburses ex-military personnel for pot, including a reduction in the amount and cost that would be covered.

The continued demand has prompted fresh calls for more research into the medical benefits of cannabis, which experts and advocates say remains lacking.

It has also raised concerns about veterans using marijuana to avoid dealing with their psychological trauma, and the need for more support for counselling and peer support.

now