Canada has long been at the forefront of medicinal cannabis research and development, especially when considering its use to help veterans. Since 2008, Canada’s Veteran Affairs has had policies in place to reimburse former military personnel for any money they spent on medically prescribed cannabis – years before any other developed western country.
This most recent budgetary decision increases the country’s spending by more than 30% compared to 2021 and 135% compared to 2019. The money will be used to not only expand the existing Veteran Affairs program but also to create a new “Veteran and Cannabis Use” research initiative. This is on top of the $9.5 million dollars that was already being Funneled into cannabis seeds and genetic research by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
The Veterans Affairs Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, has said that the government is “committed to working with veterans and their families, as well as healthcare professionals, to better understand how medical cannabis can be used to treat pain and other conditions.”
This budget also contains $20 million dollars in new funding for “innovative” mental health services and support programs for military members and their families – with a focus on those living in remote or rural areas.
On October 17, 2018, Canada became just the second country to offer full recreational legalization of cannabis. This move was justified by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau as a way of battling organized crime, to help ensure the safety of consumers, and to increase the opportunities for research into the therapeutic uses of medicinal cannabis.
The government has said that they want to “ensure that no veteran is left behind” and this seems to be a large part of that commitment. This news comes at a time when more and more countries are beginning to invest in medicinal cannabis as they see the potential benefits it can have for those suffering from a wide range of ailments and mental health conditions – with recent studies surrounding PTSD and its treatment with medicinal cannabis showing major signs of promise.
It is hoped that this move by the Canadian government will help to set a precedent for other developed countries to begin increasing their own spending on medical cannabis and associated research initiatives. Only time will tell if this comes to fruition but, in the meantime, it is clear that Canada is leading the way when it comes to investing in the therapeutic potential of this plant – and in particular for veterans that have returned with psychological issues.
With this latest development, Canada is once again leading the way in terms of cannabis reform. Senators have vowed to keep a constant watch on the issues surrounding medicinal cannabis usage, especially when it comes to replacing opioid-based treatments.
It is clear that the government is committed to ensuring that those that have served their country are given every opportunity to heal and recover – both physically and mentally. This investment is a much-needed show of faith in the healing potential of this plant and will go a long way in helping to reduce the stigma surrounding medicinal cannabis usage.