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Canada To Spend CA $200 Million Annually On Cannabis For Veterans

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The Canadian government is reimbursing more than double the amount for veterans’ cannabis reimbursement than it did just three years ago

According to newly released data, the Canadian government is on track to spend CA $200 million this year on cannabis claims for vets. This is $50 million more than last year and double what it spent just three years ago.

While experts and advocacy groups cannot pinpoint the specific reasons for this surge in demand, there are some obvious answers. The first is full legalization. The second is increased understanding and education about the impact of cannabis on the health issues that veterans tend to face. These include PTSD and brain injuries as well as other physical ailments. The third is undoubtedly the Covid Pandemic, which has seen increased use no matter the local legality of the plant.

There is also a call for more studies to understand what veterans are using the drug to treat.

Regardless, it is a very good indicator that the United States will also see a surge in demand from the same population after full legalization. The issue of reimbursed coverage is a controversial topic everywhere.

A Brief History of Canadian Veteran Cannabis Reimbursement

The federal government of Canada began reimbursing veterans for medical cannabis in 2008. At this time, such reimbursements were extremely limited and hard to get approval for. However, the change in policy was based on court rulings that stretched back for 20 years.

In 2014, Health Canada relaxed its rules about reimbursement authorizations, but did not impose limits on either expense or amount consumed. That year, the government reimbursed 112 vets at a cost of $409,000. The next year, the number of vets increased to 600 patients, and the cost increased to $1.7 million. According to government data released last June, there are now 180,000 Canadian veterans who are part of the program, at a cost of $153 million annually. This despite a 2016 decision by the government to limit use to 3 grams a day under the program, and further to impose a cost cap of $8.50 per gram. To put this in direct comparison with the civilian population, there are now 345,000 private citizens whose private insurance covers the costs.

Implications for Other Insured Populations

There are several takeaways from this data. The first is that it is clear that cannabis is working – and that the news about its medical efficacy is spreading. The second, however, which will have implications in places like Germany and the United States, is that insurers (either government-backed or private) may not like paying the costs – but it will soon become accepted – simply because there are no alternatives.

Cannabis the wonder drug has arrived. But the question of who pays for it is still an open question that no country has answers for.