Veterans

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) covers the cost of medical marijuana for medical purposes. Coverage of medical cannabis began around 2007 and remains the only government program in North America to cover medical cannabis. VAC covered over $31 million in medical cannabis for more than 3,000 patients in 6 months during 2016. This complete resource will help you better understand the program itself as well as current and past coverage.

Ganja.ca – Medical Marijuana Authority

Topic 1 CURRENT COVERAGE

The program currently covers up to 3g per day at a fix price of $8.50 for up to $9,300 annually. The VAC will also cover the cost to visit a medical marijuana clinic to obtain a prescription. Coverage above the 3-gram limit is possible (see Topic 2 – Exceptional Approval).

  • 3g/day

    COVERAGE LIMIT

  • $8.50/gram

    REIMBURESEMENT

  • FREE

    MEMBERSHIP FEE

  • $9,300

    ANNUAL COVERAGE

Are you eligible for medical marijuana?

Coverage is limited to dried cannabis and cannabis oils sold by licensed producers only. The program does not cover veterans looking to grow their own medical marijuana (despite being allowed under the ACMPR).

COVERED

Buying dried cannabis and cannabis oils from licensed producers

NOT COVERED

Growing your own medical cannabis (or designating someone)

The daily gram limit is the same for both dried cannabis and oils, and is not adjusted for the medically recognized dosage differences. This is likely due to the fact the cannabis oils have only recently become very popular and only a handful or producers are currently licensed to produce and sell cannabis oils.

Topic 2 LARGE PRESCRIPTIONS

Application. Veterans may apply for exceptional approval in order to get coverage for more than 3 grams per day. The application to the VAC must include supporting documentation, the rationale and the opinion of the specialist. For example, if you are a Canadian veteran suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), your neurologist will be required to provide this documentation. The exceptional approval process takes about 30 days
from start to end given that these are assessed on a case-by-case
basis by the VAC.

Transition. Some patients transitioning from the previous program, which allowed for up to 10g per day, may find themselves in a tough situation. Some may have integrated cannabis oil as part of their treatment, which would require well above a 3-gram per day limit. Health Canada is offering extended services until the end of 2017 to help those unable to get the exceptional approval.

Approval Rate (2017)

Statistics. For the first 6 months of 2017, VAC reported less than 100 exceptional approval claims with approximately one third being approved. Requests were partially refused because they were lacking supporting documentation or a proper rationale.

Topic 3 BRIEF HISTORY (2007 – 2017)

In 2007, the VAC decided to begin reimbursing Canadians for medical cannabis under Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), Health Canada’s program at the time. At the end of its first five years, the program attracted less than 100 veterans for which it issued $285K in reimbursements. That number grew to over 3,000 by September 2016 with reimbursements climbing to over $30 million.

VAC Covered Patients

When compared to the ACMPR, the MMAR imposed restrictions on the conditions and symptoms required for Canadians to access marijuana for medical purposes. The introduction of the ACMPR in April 2014 was a key growth driver of patients (both civilians and veterans) since it removed the specific conditions previously required for one to be eligible. The number of veterans reimbursed for cannabis for medical purposes grew over 27 times after the new regulations were introduced.

In March 2016, the program was amended to reflect refreshed knowledge, research, data and anecdotal evidence the VAC was collecting since the program’s inception. In conjunction with recommendations from the Spring 2016 Office of the Auditor General report, the VAC lowered coverage to 3 grams per day and an average price of $8.50 up to $9,300 as discussed in Section 1 – Current Coverage. The program previously allowed up to 10 grams per day with no price or annual limit.

Source: Health Canada; Veterans Affairs Canada

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