Veterans Affairs Canada has revealed that marijuana use among veterans in the country has skyrocketed so much that $65 million was spent on weed for veterans last year. This rise in medical cannabis use not surprisingly coincides with a decline in the use of prescription opioids by the veterans.
Previously, injured veterans had to take a cocktail of medications for the different conditions they were suffering from. Major Mark Campbell (Rtd) is one such former soldier who lost both legs during a tour to Afghanistan.
The retired major calls cannabis “magic” because it was the only remedy that could give him some relief from the chronic pain he felt since his final tour of duty. He reveals that he has reduced the prescription opioids that he takes by half from the time that his doctor recommended that he tries medical marijuana.
He added that the fact that so many veterans are turning to medical cannabis shows that it works for them. They aren’t taking it just to be high 24/7, Major Campbell joked.
The statistics of cannabis use among Canadian veterans are staggering. For example, 10,000 veterans used medical marijuana in 2018 alone. This is much higher than the 1,700 who used weed in 2015.
That surge in number explains why the department of Veteran Affairs forked out $65 million last year to reimburse medical cannabis dispensaries that dispensed marijuana to vets. That expenditure on cannabis comes as the reimbursements for prescription painkillers are dropping.
For instance, reimbursements for the prescription opioid fentanyl have reduced by 85 percent in just five years while the reimbursements for oxycodone have registered a 75 percent reduction in the same five-year duration.
Veteran affairs experts say that they have witnessed firsthand the switch by veterans from prescription opioids to marijuana without the accompanying depression and other symptoms of withdrawal from the addictive opioids.
The experts, such as Zachary Walsh (a University of British Columbia psychology professor), say that cannabis also holds massive promise because of its ability to combat different health challenges simultaneously. For instance, the veterans who use cannabis say it helps them fight pain, anxiety and sleep disorders.
While the department of Veteran Affairs in Canada has been spending record-breaking amounts of money on medical marijuana for veterans, advocates say a lot still needs to be done. The advocates say the department has a huge backlog of disability benefits to process and they are woefully understaffed.
Addressing those concerns would go a long way in assuring the former members of the armed forces that their contribution to the nation is valued. Earth Science Tech Inc. (OTCQB: ETST) and FinCanna Capital Corp. (CSE: CALI) (OTCQB: FNNZF) call on the federal government in Canada to fix the kinks in the Veterans Affairs department so that the injured former soldiers can access medical cannabis without any needless hassles.
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