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More injured vets turning to marijuana for chronic pain

By The Canadian Press   

Features Clinical Patient Care

The number of injured Canadian soldiers using marijuana for medical purposes, such as chronic pain and post-traumatic stress, has soared over the past year.

Figures from the Veteran Affairs department indicate some 600 veterans now smoke medical marijuana, compared to just 116 in the 2013-2014 budget year.

The cost of providing the pot has soared as well, from $417,000 to $4.3 million.


Health Canada routinely warns against marijuana use, and the Harper Conservatives have ridiculed Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for advocating overall legalization.

A Veteran Affairs official notes marijuana is not an approved medicine in Canada, but it will fund its use if a doctor deems it appropriate for a soldier’s treatment.

Clayton Goodwin, a former reservist who was injured in 2004, says the mixed government messages make it hard to get pot prescribed by a doctor.

He says many veterans with chronic pain or post-traumatic stress are choosing medicinal pot over pharmaceuticals for safety and to get away from the side effects of prescription drugs.

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