Cannabis for Medical Purposes

The health and well-being of Veterans are top priorities for the Government of Canada. This is why Veterans Affairs Canada developed a cannabis for medical purposes reimbursement policy, taking into account input that the Department received from Veterans, their advocates, stakeholders, medical experts, as well as existing research on using cannabis for medical purposes.

What's on this page

  1. Overview
  2. Timeline
  3. Statistics
  4. Additional Information

Overview

Announced on November 22, 2016, Veterans Affairs Canada's reimbursement policy for cannabis for medical purposes established a maximum three gram per day limit.

In response to feedback from Veterans and an internal review conducted earlier in 2016, the Department now also reimburses Veterans for up to three grams per day of dried cannabis, or its equivalent in fresh marijuana or cannabis oil.

Consistent with how the Department administers its other health care benefits, VAC established a fixed rate of up to $8.50 per gram, whether taken in dried marijuana, or its equivalent in fresh marijuana or cannabis oil. The fixed rate ensures that what Veterans are charged, and the Department reimburses, is a fair market value price.

The decision to reimburse up to three grams per day was based on information from consultations and research. The Department brought together a panel of Canadian medical experts who recommended a cautious approach to the use of cannabis for medical purposes, with most indicating one to two grams per day as a reasonable amount for the vast majority of cases. VAC also reviewed current scientific evidence and consulted with Veterans, stakeholders and licensed producers. This decision is also consistent with Health Canada, which indicates that the average Canadian is authorized 2.7 grams per day.

Expanding the products for reimbursement gives Veterans more options and aligns with Health Canada's 2014 regulations Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPRs), which removed limitations related to the authorization for specific conditions and the requirement for authorization by a specialist, amongst other changes; however, still required a medical authorization. With the advent of these new regulations Veterans Affairs Canada subsequently experienced a significant increase in cannabis for medical purposes reimbursements.

Currently, cannabis is authorized for a variety of medical conditions, however scientific evidence substantiating the efficacy and safety of cannabis is lacking.

Cannabis for medical purposes is an evolving area of treatment. The Department will continue to review and analyze information to ensure decisions are based on the best available evidence, and will adjust the policy, as needed, to ensure the well-being of our Veterans and their families.

On October 17, Veterans Affairs Canada released a revised Reimbursement Policy for Cannabis for Medical Purposes to account for the new Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations. Veterans will experience no change in the current reimbursement process for cannabis for medical purposes. In Budget 2018, the Government announced an investment of $10 million over five years for the Mental Health Commission of Canada to help assess the impact of cannabis use on the mental health of Canadians, and a further $10 million over five years to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction to support research on cannabis use in Canada. These initiatives will help inform future policy development.

Timeline

2007
Veterans Affairs Canada made the decision to reimburse one Veteran for cannabis for medical purposes on compassionate grounds. Since that time, Veterans Affairs Canada has been reimbursing the cost of cannabis for medical purposes for Veterans in increasing numbers and at an increased cost.
2008-2014
The Department provided reimbursement for the cost of cannabis for medical purposes to Veterans based on Section 4 of the Veterans Health Care Regulations and in accordance with Health Canada's Marihuana Medical Access Regulations. The Marihuana Medical Access Regulations provided limited access to marijuana for a number of conditions and circumstances as defined by Health Canada when authorized by a specialist only.
April 2014
Health Canada introduced the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, which removed limitations related to the authorization for specific conditions and the requirement for authorization by a specialist, among other changes; however, still required a medical authorization. With the advent of these new regulations Veterans Affairs Canada subsequently experienced a significant increase in cannabis for medical purposes reimbursements.
August 2016
Health Canada's Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations were introduced, which set out provisions for individuals to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes, or to designate someone to produce it for them.
October 2018
The new Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations come into effect, providing legal access to cannabis for Canadians. The Act and Regulations will also control and regulate the production, distribution and sale of cannabis.

For additional information, please see Frequently Asked Questions

Statistics

Please note that data is current as of March 31, 2019 and will be updated quarterly.

CMP Expenditures, Clients and Grams Reimbursed Footnote 1, Footnote 2, Footnote 3
Fiscal Year Clients Reimbursed Amount Grams Reimbursed
2011-2012 37 $103,424 16,852
2012-2013 68 $284,632 53,741
2013-2014 112 $408,809 77,012
2014-2015 628 $5,160,747 494,927
2015-2016 1,762 $20,538,153 1,745,644
2016-2017 4,474 $63,703,151 5,726,179
2017-2018 7,298 $50,967,423 6,068,671
2018-2019 10,466 $74,816,978 8,883,191
CMP Expenditures Broken Down by Province Footnote 1, Footnote 2, Footnote 4
ProvinceFootnote 3 FY 2014-15 FY 2015-16 FY 2016-17 FY 2017-18 FY 2018-19
AB $184,681 $466,191 $2,467,271 $3,332,784 $5,304,450
BC $417,865 $1,313,841 $3,568,322 $3,308,396 $4,441,305
MB $184,730 $341,241 $1,655,835 $1,846,935 $2,804,234
NB $2,229,291 $7,929,211 $16,003,325 $9,587,290 $13,898,618
NL $251,529 $943,100 $3,934,480 $2,741,542 $4,070,133
NS $858,085 $3,945,862 $10,050,454 $8,302,046 $12,954,832
NT $0 $2,469 $12,930 $18,678 $11,173
NU $0 $0 $0 $0 $3,060
ON $778,487 $4,540,398 $20,893,990 $16,876,187 $23,669,084
PE $24,936 $141,470 $706,217 $777,424 $1,343,472
QC $147,605 $669,556 $3,842,614 $3,694,656 $5,503,055
SK $83,539 $244,290 $535,263 $458,025 $782,284
XXFootnote 5 $0 $0 $18,952 $10,965 $15,428
YT $0 $525 $12,990 $12,495 $0
UnknownFootnote 6 $0 $0 $510 $0 $15,851
Total $5,160,747 $20,538,153 $63,703,151 $50,967,423 $74,816,978
CMP Recipients Broken Down by Province Footnote 1, Footnote 2, Footnote 4
ProvinceFootnote 3 FY 2014-15 FY 2015-16 FY 2016-17 FY 2017-18 FY 2018-19
AB 35 77 327 710 1,093
BC 50 143 321 531 770
MB 9 31 133 217 305
NB 210 393 794 1,100 1,489
NL 28 89 208 314 441
NS 103 354 759 1,295 1,939
NT 0 1 2 4 5
NU 0 0 0 0 1
ON 163 609 1,587 2,520 3,565
PE 3 13 61 127 171
QC 18 64 291 523 747
SK 14 26 60 89 129
XXFootnote 5 0 0 1 3 0
YT 0 1 1 2 2
UnknownFootnote 6 0 0 1 0 4
Total 628 1,762 4,474 7,298 10,466

Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Information for Health Professionals

Policy

Review

Veterans Affairs Canada Statistics – Facts and Figures

Health Canada – Cannabis in Canada

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