As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by Guest on Mon 14 Mar 2016, 07:38

As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Minister of Veterans Affairs Kent Hehr says he wants answers following a spike in the number of veterans turning to the government to pay for their medically prescribed marijuana.

In 2013-14, 112 veterans were reimbursed for medical marijuana, according to figures provided by Veterans Affairs. The next year, it was 628. Now, in just the first nine months of the 2015-16 fiscal year, it's shot up to 1,320.

"I immediately launched an internal review" after being briefed on the issue in early March, said Hehr.

"The fact that the former government let this program evolve from 2007 onward without a policy, an informed policy based on the wellness of veterans and their families, frankly shocked me."

The federal government sets a limit of how much pot it will pay for: 10 grams a day. What's less clear is why veterans are using medical marijuana, because the department says it doesn't track the underlying conditions behind the prescriptions.

Some veterans say they are using it to help with post-traumatic stress disorder. Sylvain Chartrand, director of the group Canadians Veterans Advocacy, ingests his cannabis via a marijuana butter that he mixes into hot chocolate.

"I need it for my PTSD. I don't sleep. For my anxiety. For depression," said Chartrand, who served in Cyprus in 1990 and Bosnia in 1993.

Veterans Affairs isn't involved in prescribing marijuana. Veterans consult their doctor and Blue Cross processes the claims.

However, giving pot to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder directly contradicts the military's stance on the issue. In a statement, the Canadian Forces said there's not enough proof to authorize marijuana as a treatment for PTSD and that some evidence suggests it could be harmful.

Why the increase?

The veterans affairs minister wouldn't weigh in on what might be behind the growing number of prescriptions.

"I've asked my staff to go about this internal review, look at the use of marijuana for medical purposes, establish what is in the best interest of my veterans."

Chartrand isn't convinced that more prescriptions actually means more veterans are using pot.

"Yes, there's an influx, but people were using it before and just not getting paid for it," he said.

The Conservatives say they're concerned about whether the number of prescriptions is too high and whether it's taxpayer money well spent.

"It's very worrying," said defence critic Pierre Paul-Hus. "What we're doing is we're taking our veterans and saying we're going to give you a joint of marijuana, that's going to help your problems. I don't think it's the solution."

When asked why the previous government didn't take action despite reports of increased use, Paul-Hus suggested the "major" increase in the number of prescriptions is clear now.

The increased claims also come with an increased cost. From April 1 to Dec. 31, 2015, the bill for veterans' medical marijuana added up to ​$12.1 million.

Hehr hopes the internal review will be completed in the next couple of months.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/veterans-marijuana-bill-forces-1.3487516

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Review of Marijuana Use in the Military

Post by Dove96 on Mon 14 Mar 2016, 09:26

I hope they ask a couple of us why we take it.
I was prescribed many narcotic pain suppressors and hated every one for the awful side effects - some damage was permanent. I would often put off taking the narcotic until my pain was worse than the pain/effects of the pill.
MJ I made into pills and take only for breakthrough pain - like I did with the narcotic.
Thing is, since I am not worried of the narcotic's pain and side effects I can take it before the pain debilitates me.
I didn't ask for it before because of the stigma and frankly I was uncomfortable with the lack of information (bogus info) and dose control was and still is sketchy for non-smokers/vapers.
Word of mouth from other Veterans has helped me greatly. Thank you for posting your experiences and advice.
It was a last resort for me but I wish it was available legally years ago.

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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by Teentitan on Mon 14 Mar 2016, 11:28

And the internal review on why there was an increase is going to yield the same results found under the last Minister....wherever there is an organization to help veterans with getting their Medical Marijuana card from Health Canada then help in doing the paperwork for VAC to pay the numbers rose 3-4 times from the previous years.

Hey Minister it's called read the previous reports/studies/research! You are wasting money and time by having another report done. Money that could go into other research.

Also we are no longer in the military where it is illegal. We are veterans who went thru the proper application process to be given the right to take what medication helps. The medication you approve of also has no absolute proof it works for every vet. If it did then it would be the drug of choice for veterans with PTSD.

Oh one other thing....

"I've asked my staff to go about this internal review, look at the use of marijuana for medical purposes, establish what is in the best interest of my veterans."

Don't take ownership of me! In the 16 years of being a veteran I have never heard a Minister make such a degrading comment like this! I am not Veterans Affairs property!
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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by pinger on Mon 14 Mar 2016, 11:47

I hear you Dove. Whatever form of MJ, can't be worse than what my pills do to my liver.

You beat me to the punch on the article Trooper Smile

But I saw other things in it. MVA had a knee jerk reaction on this for the media. So why the heck has he been absent in the news (not his facebook!) for our OTHER concerns?
I know... separate topic/thread.

Back to pot article. "Veterans Affairs isn't involved in prescribing marijuana (just pay for it). Veterans consult their doctor and Blue Cross processes the claims."


Perhaps if VAC was involved with the "why for's" they wouldn't be out the loop when they get the bill? Maybe better for them to be out the loop?
This whole issue should be straight up without too many cooks in the kitchen.
Article stinks bad! Coming soon.. .another review
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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by bigrex on Mon 14 Mar 2016, 12:18

The thing is, there are pros and cons for any drug, legal or illegal, especially if taken long term. Therefor it is between the Veteran and their medical team, to determine what is the least harmful for them, while still offering some benefit. NOT Veterans Affairs. At age 44, I would rather try medical marijuana, and be able to use it regularly to control my pain level, than only periodically taking my prescribed narcotics or risk getting addicted to them, for the next (hopefully) 30 to 40 years.

TBH, I'm really surprised by this move. After all, his boss wants to make it legal, so anyone can use it, not just for medical reasons. I'm sure they won't be told how much to use each day either.
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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by Guest on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 06:58

Medical marijuana groups say increase in veterans' claims no shock

Minister of Veterans Affairs has launched review of program that reimburses veterans for cannabis

Two of the leading Canadian companies that help veterans file reimbursement claims for medicinal marijuana say the spike in payments from the federal government over the past couple of years comes as no surprise.

Trauma Healing Centers and Marijuana for Trauma were responding to Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr launching an internal program review.

CBC News reported Monday that Hehr wants answers following a nearly 12-fold increase in the number of veterans turning to the government to pay for their medically prescribed marijuana since 2013-2014.

Hehr said he was shocked to find there was "no policy developed by the former government around the use of medical marijuana."

"What we have to look at is best practices around the world; what other militaries are doing and veterans' communities," he said. "At the end of the day, we have to look at this with science, reason and common sense."

In 2013-14, Veterans Affairs paid out $409,000 for medical marijuana prescriptions, according to figures provided by Veterans Affairs.

The next fiscal year, it jumped to $5.2 million. And within the first nine months of the current year, it shot up to $12.1 million.

The number of veterans being reimbursed has risen to 1,320 from 112 during that two-year period.

Trev Bungay, vice-president of Trauma Healing Centers, says the numbers don't shock him.

"Now that people are finally coming out and admitting that they're sick and they need help, whether it's post-traumatic stress [PTSD] or chronic pain, or any other illness that can be helped with medicinal marijuana, then that's where it's coming from," said Bungay.

"Our position on it is we kind of expected that this [review] was going to happen in time."

The federal government does set a limit of how much pot it will pay for: 10 grams a day. Bungay says that equates to about $2,000 per month.

Rise will continue

Trauma Healing Centers connects veterans with doctors who will prescribe marijuana, and helps them claim back the costs through Veterans Affairs Canada.

The company is based out of Dartmouth, N.S., but has its roots in Oromocto, N.B., home to 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, formerly and commonly known as CFB Gagetown.

A similar company, Marijuana for Trauma, is also based in Oromocto. Both have at least five offices across Canada, and are expanding.

Reached via text message on Monday, Marijuana for Trauma president Fabian Henry said he has been asking Veterans Affairs Canada to take a look at the program for two years.

"This is just the beginning of the spike and it's going to get a lot higher," said Henry.

Bungay says both groups have played a major part in the growing number of claims.

"I mean obviously we give people with the illnesses an opportunity and a place to come to get that prescription, so we're definitely the big players in that."

In 2014-15, 42 per cent of all medicinal marijuana payments from Veterans Affairs Canada were to veterans in New Brunswick.

Veterans Affairs Canada isn't involved in prescribing marijuana. Veterans consult their doctor and Blue Cross processes the claims.

However, giving pot to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder directly contradicts the military's stance on the issue. In a statement, the Canadian Forces said there's not enough proof to authorize marijuana as a treatment for PTSD and that some evidence suggests it could be harmful.

Marijuana has not been approved as a drug or medicine by Health Canada.

Hehr said he hopes the internal review will be completed within the next couple of months.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/medical-marijuana-veterans-policy-1.3491139

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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by Teentitan on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 12:02

Veterans Affairs Canada isn't involved in prescribing marijuana. Veterans consult their doctor and Blue Cross processes the claims.

However, giving pot to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder directly contradicts the military's stance on the issue. In a statement, the Canadian Forces said there's not enough proof to authorize marijuana as a treatment for PTSD and that some evidence suggests it could be harmful.


So again how does being a veteran (a civilian who no longer serves in the CF) get tied to the military? Perfect definition of hypocrite!

I totally agree with Rex....this is a gov't that wants to legalize pot but is investigating this? Again another perfect definition of hypocrite!!
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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by Guest on Tue 15 Mar 2016, 19:40

Apollo launches largest PTSD Medical Cannabis study in Canada - Calgary sleep specialist Dr. Adam Moscovitch and New Brunswick physician Dr. Paul Smith join Ontario's Dr. Paula Williams on investigation team

TORONTO, March 15, 2016 /CNW/ - For Veterans and First Responders who struggle daily with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, treatment options are often limited. Apollo Applied Research, a network of medical cannabis clinics across Canada, regularly conducts studies to examine the benefits of medical cannabis on various conditions. Apollo currently prescribes medical cannabis for patients diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and has seen its benefits as a viable treatment option. The Clinic is launching a cross-Canada study to test the effects of certain strains of medical cannabis for Veterans and First Responders in order to lessen PTSD symptoms and improve quality of life for patients and their families.
The study is a logical step in assessing the efficacy of medical cannabis for this very serious mental health condition, as well as determining the safety of medical cannabis to reduce PTSD symptoms. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, estrangement, detachment from other people, paranoia and sleep disturbance, leading to a significant impairment of quality of life.
"This research study is a passion project and it is timely given the national attention that is being given to Veterans, First Responders and to mental health awareness overall. There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence and now it's time for validated research." said Bryan Hendin, President of Apollo Applied Research Inc.
STUDY PARTICULARS:
WHAT: Prospective Observational Trial for Medical Cannabis in the Treatment of PTSD. Apollo's future state plans include taking the observational results and implementing a controlled clinical trial.
WHEN: The study is currently approved by Ontario's Institutional Review Board (IRB) and is already underway. The study is four months in duration.

WHERE: The study has already launched in Ontario and Apollo is finalizing its expansion in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Alberta which will happen shortly. Apollo is inviting medical offices across all provinces and territories in Canada to participate as partners to make this study a true representation of Canadian including veterans and first responders diagnosed and coping with PTSD across the country.
WHO: The study will enroll 352 patients already diagnosed with PTSD as per DSM-V criteria. Three experienced Canadian specialists, Dr. Paula Williams MD DAAPM (Ontario), Dr. Adam Moscovitch MD, FRCPC, DABSM, DABPN (Calgary and Toronto) and Dr. Paul Smith MD CCFP (New Brunswick) will lead the study as Principal Investigators.
HOW: To learn more about our research studies you can visit www.apolloresearch.ca or contact Apollo Clinic at 416-840-5991 (Ontario) or Toll Free at (877) 560-9195. Inquiries can also be emailed to ptsd@apolloresearch.ca.
Apollo is working closely with advocates in the veteran and first responder community who have a personal interest in seeing research on other treatment options for PTSD sufferers. Pat Stogran is one such advocate who wants to see better support and treatment for veterans suffering with PTSD. He led the first troops into Afghanistan in 2001 and now also suffers from PTSD himself. He is a retired colonel with Canadian Forces Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and Canada's first Veteran's Ombudsman in 2007.
"Treating PTSD is a matter of life and death," Stogran said, who is no stranger from advocating for veterans.
The medical team at Apollo are also strong advocates for patients to have access to medical cannabis as a treatment option. Apollo's physicians have been among the first to prescribe medical cannabis at a time when many in the medical community steered away from this type of treatment.

Apollo is pleased to have exceptional Principal Investigators working on this research study. Dr. Paula Williams MD DAAPM who has seen and treated many PTSD patients in her more than 30 years of practice in Ontario. Joining the study is Dr. Adam Moscovitch MD, FRCPC, who has also treated many patients with PTSD including veterans and first responders. Dr. Moscovitch has a specialty in Sleep Medicine and Psychiatry, and is also a former military officer and combat veteran. Dr. Paul Smith MD CCFP is also a welcome addition to the Investigation team and has the most experience with prescribing medical cannabis for PTSD patients. In addition to his extensive experience prescribing, he has worked with the Department of National Defense (Canada) and will be an asset to the team.
"We have learned a lot from our current Chronic Pain and Medical Cannabis research study on what strains and prescribing methods work best for our chronic pain patients," said Bryan Hendin. "This is our second large-scale study and Apollo Applied Research is currently planning to conduct research on other conditions not yet explored. It is our hope that our PTSD study will lead to further research partnerships including Veteran Affairs Canada."
He also notes that Canada is a leading example for other countries who wish to put medicinal cannabis to the test for treating a variety of conditions.
"Currently in the United States, studies are stalled due to the lack of federal approval of using cannabis for testing," says Hendin. "Strains of medical marijuana are classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is tightly controlled by the Food and Drug Administration. This presents a challenge for conducting studies with American veterans who are struggling with PTSD. Canada is positioned to be a leader in medical cannabis research.
Apollo Applied Research Backgrounder

Apollo Applied Research-conducts clinical research trials in the field of chronic pain. The certified professional team manages all aspects of study conduct, patient recruitment, ethical approvals, site monitoring, training (GCP & Protocol), and more. Apollo currently leads two of Canada's largest medical cannabis studies, and will be initiating stem cell and other regenerative medicine therapies beginning this spring. Apollo Clinics have seen and prescribed medical cannabis to over 2,000 patients for a variety of conditions. The company has conducted validated research since 2014 and strives to bridge the knowledge gap by supporting evidence-based cannabis research.
Dr. Paula Williams
Dr. Paula Williams graduated from the University of Toronto in medicine in 1975, following two years as a CUSO volunteer in Tanzania. After a rotating internship she finished most of a four year residency program in anesthesia. The next few years were devoted to parenthood, general practice, working in an interventional pain clinic and teaching medical students. Because of her experience living in other countries for many years, she developed a great interest in patients who experienced trauma and who developed chronic pain as well as PTSD. Dr. Williams has enjoyed her pain management practice for 20 years. She maintains memberships in several international pain societies and continues medical teaching. She is a diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management as well. Her interest in PTSD and other psychiatric disorders arose from her observations of the hundreds of pain patients she has met with over the years.
Dr. Williams is a lecturer in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto and has received a major teaching award. Her future plans include involvement with research projects to enhance our ability to help this challenging patient population.

Dr. Adam Moscovitch
Dr. Moscovitch is an internationally recognized Sleep and Fatigue Specialist, with a primary background in Psychiatry. As a child of two Holocaust survivors, and a past combat military veteran officer himself, he developed an early interest in research and clinical management of PTSD, with particular focus on the sleep ramifications. He has been in the sleep field for the last 27 years, following 3 years of fellowship in that subspecialty, two of those spent at Stanford as a visiting scholar and National Institute of Health research fellow. He is Diplomate of the American Boards of Sleep Medicine, Psychiatry and Neurology, and Forensic Medicine. He is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, The University of Calgary, where his research was recognized with the 2004 clinical researcher of the year award.
Throughout his career he has been treating PTSD sufferers, from Holocaust survivors, Military veterans both in Canada and the US, first responders, and trauma sufferers from other causes.
Dr. Paul Smith
Dr. Paul A Smith has 38 years of experience in Family Medicine, (Dalhousie University graduate 1978) and has spent half of his career with a rural medicine emphasis. Over 10 years with a growing interest in PTSD since working with the Department of National Defence for a year from 2000 to 2001 and working first-hand with Injured Veterans. He currently has a dedicated in family medicine practice clinic working with PTSD veterans on all levels, with an emphasis in stabilization and secondary treatments for PTSD, including neurofeedback. He has a very family oriented and multi-disciplined approach to medicine. He has training and interest in several psychiatric, physical medicine, and natural forms of medicine resulting in a very unique approach to PTSD.

Bryan Hendin
Bryan Hendin is the President and CEO of Apollo Applied Research. He has experience in leading two world-class pain management centres, Allevio Pain Management Clinic and Apollo Applied Research. His passion for finding better solutions for patients with chronic pain started from a very personal experience with the lack of available and effective pain management alternatives. In 2013 he opened his second company Apollo Applied Research which is a pain management research clinic specializing in the treatment of chronic pain using Medical Cannabis. Due to the lack of research and clinical trials in the area of medical cannabis, Apollos medical and research teams are developing a number of research studies investigating the efficacy of medical cannabis in order to improve the quality of life for patients with particular medical conditions.
SOURCE Apollo Applied Research

http://news.sys-con.com/node/3724763

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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by 1993firebird on Wed 16 Mar 2016, 14:05

Good to relax my brain and ease my pain. IF YOU BUILD IT HE WILL COME.

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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by Teentitan on Wed 16 Mar 2016, 21:51

Played darts at the Sgt's mess tonight and all the military people couldn't believe Hehr has his panties in a knot over medical marijuana when his party campaigned on legalizing it!!!

Distraction from the real promises the Libs have made is what I'm taking away from Hehr's "concern" over medical pot.
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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by Guest on Thu 17 Mar 2016, 15:42

Why Canada Just Became A World Leader On Medical Marijuana And PTSD

Canada is taking the lead on studying marijuana as a way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD has become a hot-button issue among marijuana advocates. Right now, Canada and some American states including Michigan and Nevada recognize cannabis as a drug that can help veterans, first responders and others suffering from PTSD treat their symptoms. But New York, Illinois and other states that have legalized medical marijuana don't include PTSD as a qualified condition. And Veterans Affairs prohibits V.A. physicians from prescribing cannabis to American veterans.

But a landmark study by Canadian researchers could broaden and improve the use of marijuana for PTSD treatment. On Mar. 16, Apollo Research - a network of Canadian medical cannabis clinics that prescribe medical marijuana - announced that it's undertaking a cross-country study to investigate the effects marijuana has on patients with PTSD.

"This research study is a passion project and it is timely given the national attention that is being given to Veterans, First Responders and to mental health awareness overall," said Bryan Hendin, President of Apollo Applied Research - in a press release."There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence [in favor of using cannabis to treat PTSD] and now it's time for validated research."

The study will also investigate which strains are best for treating PTSD: "We have learned a lot...on what strains and prescribing methods work best for our chronic pain patients," said Hendin. The PTSD project will aim to do the same. And while Apollo is spearheading research, they hope to partner with Veterans Affairs Canada in the near future.

Canada poised to overtake American researchers

The project could make Canada a world leader in this field of research, outpacing studies in United States that are hampered by America's rigid drug laws.

"Currently in the United States, studies are stalled due to the lack of federal approval of using cannabis for testing," noted Hendin. "Strains of medical marijuana are classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is tightly controlled by the Food and Drug Administration. This presents a challenge for conducting studies with American veterans who are struggling with PTSD. Canada is positioned to be a leader in medical cannabis research."

That bureaucratic stalemate hindering American cannabis research isn't likely to improve any time soon. Groups like the Cato Institute and others groups have have called on the American government to reschedule cannabis. But the DEA has refused to budge on the issue. And the Obama administration has decided not to take action on marijuana unless legislation comes from Congress, where numerous bills that would liberalize the nation's laws have stalled, including the CARERS Act - a bipartisan bill that would change the drug scheduling and recognize the value of medical marijuana.

But further research such as the Apollo study could pressure the American government to recognize the medical value of cannabis, and to help veterans and other patients with PTSD gain access to medical marijuana.

https://www.civilized.life/canada-ptsd-medical-marijuana-1668611701.html

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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by Guest on Sat 02 Apr 2016, 16:36

Medical marijuana use among veterans rising

The founder of a local medical marijuana centre says the increase of Canadian veterans requesting prescriptions for medical marijuana could be attributed to better knowledge of treatment for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Trevor Hands, the founder of the first medical marijuana centre in Kingston, Medi-Green, attributes the rise in usage of cannabis among veterans to an ever-increasing knowledge of PTSD, physical trauma and how to treat it.

"They've [veterans have] looked at the past of their forefathers and have seen what, potentially, alcohol and pills have done, and now there's recognition of PTSD and what it is," Hands said.

Earlier this month, Minister of Veterans Affairs Kent Hehr announced an internal review investigating a sharp increase of veterans using medical marijuana to treat psychological and physical trauma. The spike in medical marijuana use prompted Veterans Affairs to complete a review and develop a policy for veterans seeking medical marijuana for treatement.

Between the fiscal years of 2013 and 2015, there was a nearly 12-times increase in veterans claiming reimbursement for cannabis, according to numbers provided by Veterans Affairs. According to Veterans Affairs, it reimbursed veterans $409,000 in fiscal year 2013-2014, but that figure jumped to more than $12.1 million between April and December of 2015.

In the past, some veterans were treated with the mentality of simply taking it like a soldier, Hands said, but now that a greater understanding of PTSD exists, the condition is actually being diagnosed. He said cannabis is an effective and safe way to treat PTSD once it is diagnosed, and if ever veterans want to quit using marijuana, there are no worries of addiction.

Dan Quirion, a former Canadian Forces member, served in the army for 21 years as a signal operator. Quirion said he previously treated the effects of PTSD with pharmaceutical drugs, but had better results with medical marijuana.

"Soldiers are turning to cannabis because it's a better relief and a better fit for them," Quirion said. "It helps them reach a level where -- we don't like to say normal -- but they are functional in their daily lives.

Quirion said he had friends from the army who didn't leave their homes for years, but cannabis has changed everything for them.

"They're able to go out, able to have a rapport with society, and are able to bring back their family. In some cases, they had lost family, wives or husbands," Quirion said.

In April of last year, Medi-Green opened its first centre in Perth, followed by a Kingston location in December. Hands recognized a need that was desperately unfulfilled between Toronto and Ottawa and decided to do something about it.

"I didn't see any services [here]," Hands said. "There are [other centres] coming to town now, but I didn't see any services, and both Toronto and Ottawa are saturated with centres," Hands said.

Hands said Medi-Green tries to offer any service customers might require, from prescriptions to lessons on proper use and even retreats. Cannabis is a versatile plant that can be consumed by smoking or mixing it into tea or baked or added to food, and part of what Medi-Green offers is education on the best method of cannabis ingestion for patients.

"It's a full gamut of things that we offer," Hands said.

While Quirion said he had never touched any sort of illegal drugs in his life before being given a prescription for medical marijuana, he was finally convinced to try cannabis when he found he required additional drugs to combat the effects of the pharmaceuticals he was already being prescribed. He is now in the process of cutting back on the pharmaceutical drugs with the intention of eventually relying entirely on cannabis.

Veterans today have more options for support and treatment than those who fought in wars and conflicts in the 20th century, according to Quirion.

"Back then, many veterans dealt with trauma by bottling it in and drinking," Quirion said. "Now veterans are looking for a long-term solution, not so they can just operate every day within their household, but so they can return to as close to normal as possible," Quirion said.

http://www.thewhig.com/2016/04/01/medical-marijuana-use-among-veterans-rising

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Marijuana compounds brewed using yeast by Canadian biotech firms

Post by Guest on Mon 18 Apr 2016, 06:50

Yeast fermentation technique allows researchers to isolate cannabinoids for treatment of different diseases

New medical marijuana products produced by yeast could soon be on the market, the co-founder of a biotech company says. That could potentially lead to a wider range of cannabinoid-based drugs that proponents say could be more effective for treating certain medical conditions than medical marijuana itself.

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in marijuana. Kevin Chen's Montreal-based company, Hyasynth, has successfully made the cannabinoid cannabigerol (CBG) from genetically engineered yeast, and he says this could be a precursor to other major and minor cannabinoids.

The appropriate use of medical marijuana has been a controversial topic, with many arguing that further research is needed to evaluate its efficacy as a treatment for a variety of ailments.

In Canada, where the Liberal government has said it will legalize marijuana, medical marijuana is already used to treat a variety of conditions and symptoms, including lack of appetite in people with HIV/AIDS and nausea in those undergoing cancer treatment.

The most well-known cannabinoid is tetrahydrolcannabinol, or THC, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat nausea and improve appetite. It's found in large amounts in marijuana plants, which is the reason why medical marijuana is often prescribed to treat nausea and increase appetite.

But other cannabinoids, like cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) may have the potential to be potent treatments for other conditions as well. CBG also has its own medical properties. But it can also be easily chemically converted into other cannabinoids, including THC.

Hyasynth's researchers aren't the only ones working to brew cannabinoids using yeast. In a paper published in Biotechnology Letters in December, German biochemists announced they had genetically engineered yeast to produce THC.

And another Canadian firm, Anandia Labs, is well on its way toward brewing its own yeast-produced cannabinoids.

Chen says genes from marijuana are inserted into the yeast genome, where they produce the enzymes that create the cannabinoid. Before insertion, the yeast's metabolic systems are engineered "to get it to produce your molecules instead of its own molecules."

Yeast-produced cannabinoids could yield some impressive advantages in the pharmacological world.

Perhaps most exciting is the ability to isolate different compounds for study and treatment of particular diseases. Cannabinoids found in very small concentrations in marijuana plants could also be produced in more potent dosages.

"Marijuana produces lots and lots of THC, and lots and lots of another compound called CBD, but it also isn't a very good source of some of the minor cannabinoids," says Jonathan Page, CEO of Anandia Labs and a University of British Columbia botany professor.

Cost efficiencies?

Chen says growing cannabinoids using yeast is more efficient than artificial chemical synthesis. (Artificially produced THC pills are already on the market).

"Natural molecule production is done pretty well by nature, and so we're working with that as a basis as opposed to just trying to produce things straight from petroleum starting materials or something like that."

It's been suggested that producing cannabinoids through yeast could have a lower production cost than other methods, but Page says that's still up for debate.

"We don't have enough real data to support the fact that fermentation would be cheaper than chemical synthesis or plant production, so I can't really say that's going to be a clear advantage."

Chen says cannabinoid-producing yeast yields more consistent results than marijuana plants, even specialized strains. Factors like when a plant is harvested and how much light and water it gets can affect its drug profile.

"Maybe you're growing the same strain twice on two different occasions and maybe there's a slight difference in the temperature and that results in a big difference in the end product."

Still a place for plants

As beneficial as isolated cannabinoids may be, marijuana plants still have their place.

"Plants are some of the cheapest chemical production systems on the planet," says Page.

With just soil, water and light, you can grow a plant that can be made of 25 per cent or more, by dry weight, of the major chemical compounds like THC and CBD, he says.

"The other advantage is that plants are very easily scalable," he says, "in the sense that if you can grow two plants, you can grow a million plants … it's just a matter of planting more. Whereas scaling up in biotech systems like yeast fermentation can be quite technically challenging."

With momentum for increased medical marijuana research building, Chen says that in the near future, "you're going to see a lot more attention being paid towards these kinds of drugs."

His company is currently looking for potential commercial partners who can help get Hyasynth's products to market. He acknowledged they would have to tested and approved by regulators before hitting store shelves. Still, he believes all that could happen within the next year.

The federal government is currently reviewing its medical marijuana distribution regulations after a judge struck down a law mandating that cannabis be distributed only by licensed providers through the mail.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/medical-marijuana-yeast-1.3527950

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This Former Military Cook Uses Medical Marijuana to Help War Vets Fight PTSD

Post by Guest on Wed 20 Apr 2016, 14:25

“Cannabis has destroyed and saved my life all at the same time.”

For seven years, Cody Lindsay was a cook in Canada’s military. Working primarily in the Navy, Private Lindsay learned not only his craft but the healing power of food.

“There’s nothing better for a guy having a shitty day than an extra shrimp on his plate, or an extra scoop of hearty stew,” he says. “Those small things are huge morale-builders in the military. That’s one of the things I loved about being a cook in the military; bringing people together in the mess hall over good food, during shitty times. A good meal can help the troops big time.”

Lindsay, who comes from a military family, knew right after high school that he wanted to be in the armed forces, though he was also hesitant to be on the front lines.

“I applied as a cook, I thought it was going to be easy,” he says. “I didn’t quite want to be infantry and do hardcore military manual-labour-type stuff. I figured, ‘Cooking can’t be that hard!’ But I was totally wrong. It’s a hard-as-f**k trade; you’re in a hot kitchen all day and it’s the tightest cramped quarters you can find. The heat of the stove, and the heat of the moment and people around you, it’s not that fun. But I took a liking to it.”

Despite having found his calling, Lindsay was eventually kicked out of the military because of a weed-related offense. It was a rock-bottom moment, he says, but one which helped him reinvent himself as a veteran, chef, and marijuana advocate, all of which intersects on his website The Wellness Soldier.

“Wellness Soldier was set up for information and education. It’s for veterans, or anybody, really, to learn how meditation, fitness, healthy eating, and cannabis can help more than the harsh pharmaceuticals that they’re on. It’s to promote healthy living. It’s geared towards veterans, but the information can be used by every living human on the planet.”

After realizing the toll that war was taking on those dear to him, Lindsay began using his culinary skills to help treat other veterans who are frequently prescribed heavy pharmaceuticals. “My mother did multiple tours in the military. About four years ago, she started not feeling so good and she needed a little pick-me-up. When she went to the doctor, it was pill after pill after pill, which are brain-altering chemical drugs, you’re not just smoking a little bit of weed—you’re getting fracked up.”

“So I told my mother that if you’re going to be taking these heavy medications, you can’t follow up with soda, mock-chicken sandwiches, and frozen dinners. If you want the pills to work, your body has to work. So, I began cooking for her, but there was no weed in it [laughs]. And I realized that if she needed it, a lot of other people probably needed it.”

Medical marijuana is only one pillar of the Wellness Soldier program, but it’s a pretty central one, and one which has allowed Lindsay to push his culinary boundaries.

“Cannabis as an ingredient is amazing. There are so many ways you can use it and infuse it into food. THC is fat-soluble, so it stays in the fat. Basically, anything that you put butter or oil in becomes a cannabis meal,” he says. “Risotto needs a good butter finish at the end anyway, so it does two things at once. The butter makes the risotto look beautiful and taste beautiful but it’s also adding in amazing medical properties to help you.”

For military veterans, those medical properties include alleviation of symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Over the last three years, the number of Canadian veterans being reimbursed by the government for medical marijuana has increased tenfold and that number is only getting bigger.

This growing acceptance of medical marijuana on the part of the Canadian government has been important for Lindsay. “I appreciate the acknowledgement from Veterans Affairs of, ‘Yes, you do have anxiety, and yes, it is caused by us, and yes, we are going to cover [medicinal marijuana] because we believe that it’s our fault.’ It’s a huge validation.”

But it’s also bittersweet for Lindsay, who was discharged from the military for having failed a drug test due to marijuana. “It’s kind of messed up, because it’s like, ‘That’s what I got kicked out for!’”

Like many veterans, Lindsay says that before he was prescribed medical marijuana, he was self-medicating as a way of coping with the harsh realities of being in a combat zone—even as a cook. “When I got back, I started smoking cannabis to ease my mind, because the whole time that I was there, I was in a warzone. I was just hypervigilant, looking around all the time, just making sure that I knew where I was.”

Due to a traumatic event that took place off of the battlefield, Lindsay says he did not respond well to doctors’ insistence on taking pharmaceutical drugs. “The military tried to help me, they sent me a psychologist. They told me I was an addict and that I should take pills and go to rehab. My sister passed away from accidental suicide from an overdose of Tylenol. […] So I’m not quite comfortable with putting pills in my body.”

Lindsay was eventually prescribed medical marijuana to deal with anxiety that he says stems from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. “They asked me if I wanted to go to Kandahar, and at first I really didn’t even know where that was. But I joined the military to see the world and to do my duty, so I said, ‘Sure.’ Then I went on Google and found out that Kandahar was in Afghanistan; they sent me within two weeks where most people have nine months training. I didn’t have the proper equipment, the required firearms training, or my malaria shots. It was a shyteshow the whole time.”

“Cannabis destroyed my life because I got kicked out of the military for smoking it. I loved being a cook in the military, putting on the uniform—everything about the military,” Lindsay recounts. “But it also started saving my life. Because Veterans Affairs is covering it, it takes away a financial burden. It also takes away the anxiety I feel from being underprepared in the military, from having my brain racing all the time, and my operational stress injury.”

Because he values healthy living above all, Lindsay’s approach to medical marijuana isn’t about getting high. “It’s kind of hard to be healthy after you’ve smoked a joint and want to eat an entire box of cookies.” By cooking with Health Canada-approved cannabis oils from licensed producers, Lindsay says he can integrate a smoother, healthier dosage of medicinal marijuana into his food.

“It’s everything that I need without the head high. If you have a couple of puffs with a doobie, you’re gonna feel it in your head and within 30 to 40 minutes you’re going to start burning up. By putting the oils in my morning smoothie, I get a lot less cravings, and I barely even notice. It’s like a nicotine patch. You don’t notice it in your body, but it’s in there. Each strain has its own taste, depending on what you’re cooking. Some oils are better for jams, and others for salad dressing—there are different applications, for sure.”

Though the Wellness Soldier project is in its infancy, Lindsay says that the feedback he has gotten is very encouraging. “I created Wellness Soldier for people to see that there are alternative medicines out there to help you. The greatest part is when people start making my recipes and asking all these questions of my website.”

Though he is currently enrolled in a Veterans Affairs rehabilitation program aimed at transitioning back into civilian life, Lindsay plans to move to British Columbia—Canada’s weed hub—where he is looking to buy a five-acre chunk of land that he says is ideal to open a “Bud and Breakfast” location, where he can once again fuse his love for cooking and cannabis.

In the meantime, Lindsay is focusing his time and energy on the Wellness Soldier and forms of activism that go beyond education, like cooking at veterans fundraisers and for wheelchair-bound veterans on Valentine’s Day.

“Food is morale. Food can make your day go from shitty to good. You can have a bad day and you realize that your significant other is cooking food for you, and it turns everything around. But if you’re taking the food and taking the medicine you need for symptom relief at the same time, it’s double the morale.”

https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/this-former-military-cook-uses-medical-marijuana-to-help-war-vets-fight-ptsd

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Re: As veterans' pot prescriptions rise tenfold in 2 years, Ottawa asks questions

Post by Jayse29 on Sun 24 Apr 2016, 05:37

I have found relief from pain and depression with kratom. I doubt VA would cover that.

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