Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by 6608 on Tue 25 Oct 2016, 01:02

RESPONSE TO RECENT ARTICLE PUBLISHED BY CBC NEWS
In relation to the article recently published by the CBC regarding Peter Stoffer: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/stoffer-medical-pot-ptsd-1.3813735

First, Trauma Healing Centers would like to apologize for any distress this has caused veterans and their families. Mr.Stoffer's comments were taken out of context and it sounds like he is trying to advocate for VAC to make major changes to the amount of medical cannabis veterans can have reimbursed. This could not be further from the truth.

Please understand that we only want what is right for veterans(and civilians) in terms of accessing beneficial treatments. We are in no way advocating for slashing the current limits VAC covers. We feel this would be a severe injustice to veterans and their families and potentially life threatening in some cases. VAC is having trouble understanding the medical value of cannabis and we are trying to help VAC understand there is value and there is a right way and a wrong way for it to be prescribed.

We are strong advocates for proper medical oversight of patients who are being tried on medical cannabis. A start low approach and proper medical oversight will result in finding the lowest effective dose to control symptoms, whether that's 1 gram or 10 grams per day. Just like any other medication.

We are also trying to expose and overcome the social stigma that exists related to medical cannabis patients who are tagged "pot heads" and it's assumed there's a recreational motivation. Peter Stoffer and Trauma Healing Centers are big believers in the medical value of cannabis for certain conditions and we see the positive results in our clinics each and every day.

If cannabis is ever to be taken seriously as a medicine it needs to be thought of like any other medicine in the sense there are real benefits which need to be monitored and measured for the well being of everyone involved.

We want our current patients and potential patients to know there is a right way and wrong way to do this and Trauma Healing Centers is committed to a very medical approach. Proper assessment, prescribing and follow up to ensure treatment success is the only way cannabis can be legitimized as a medicine in the view of all nay sayers.

Sincerely,
Trauma Healing Centers


https://www.smore.com/cys3s-edition-8?ref=email





Cheers
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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by Trooper on Tue 25 Oct 2016, 06:32

No kidding...I can just Imagine the backlash that came from what Peter stated in the article.

Taken out of context? Read the article.

These people including Kent need to stop interfering with the medical profession system.
If they have a problem with the cost, they should come out and say it, and stop mixing/messing things up for what is working for Veterans.

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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by teentitan on Tue 25 Oct 2016, 11:33

I fully believe in MM but 10 mg/day is too much. I have friends who have gone thru chemo and the most they smoked a day was maybe 5/6.

Don't get me wrong each person is different I understand that but if we want to see a repeat of the opioid problem where doctors started high dosages instead of the low and slow approach each person's body adapts and each person's will power is different.

I agree with the low and slow approach to all meds including MM.

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Shoppers Drug Mart applies to be a distributor of medical marijuana

Post by Trooper on Wed 26 Oct 2016, 11:14

Shoppers Drug Mart applies to be a distributor of medical marijuana

ALEXANDRA POSADZKI, THE CANADIAN PRESS 10.25.2016


This Feb. 13, 2013 file photo shows a marijuana bud at the grand opening of the Seattle location of the Northwest Cannabis Market, for sales of medical marijuana products. Shoppers Drug Mart says it has submitted an application to be a distributor of medical marijuana. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elaine Thompson

TORONTO - Shoppers Drug Mart has submitted an application to distribute medical marijuana — a move that, if permitted, could change how patients get access to the drug.

But although the pharmacy chain says allowing it to dispense cannabis would improve patient care, some industry players are voicing concerns that users could face higher prices and have access to fewer strains.

Federal regulations only allow registered patients to buy cannabis directly from licensed producers, who send the product to clients by mail.

That means that even if Shoppers Drug Mart's application is approved, Canada's largest pharmacy chain won't be permitted to sell medical marijuana through its stores unless Ottawa revises the rules.

Shoppers Drug Mart spokeswoman Tammy Smitham says the company is hopeful that the federal government will do so, arguing that it would improve "access, safety, quality and security" for patients.

Industry association Cannabis Canada says adding a middleman such as a pharmacy could provide some benefits — for example, medical marijuana users would be able to consult with their pharmacists face-to-face — but it may also come with some downsides.

Consumers may end up paying a higher price, says Colette Rivet, executive director of Cannabis Canada.

"There's a dispensing fee on all pharmaceuticals," Rivet said.

"At Shoppers Drug Mart they pay a certain price for the pills but then they add a dispensing fee to cover their administrative costs."

Another concern is that the variety of strains available on store shelves could be quite limited, Rivet said.

"That is critical for patients because they react differently to different strains," she said.

Mark Zekulin, president of licensed producer Canopy Growth Corp., said it would be vital that pharmacists are educated about the drug if they're going to sell it in stores.

"What if you show up at the pharmacy for assistance ... and they haven't been properly trained and they're not necessarily engaged in understanding the product? You end up ultimately with a disservice," Zekulin said.

The number of clients registered with Health Canada to use medical cannabis has grown. At the end of June there were 75,166 registered clients under the medical marijuana regime, according to the Health Canada's website.

That's up 40 per cent from the previous quarter, when there were 53,649 clients, and more triple the number from a year ago when only 23,930 people had registered to receive the drug.

Smitham said Shoppers, which is owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L), has applied to Health Canada to become a licensed medical marijuana producer — but only for the purpose of distributing the drug.

The retailer has "no intention" of producing cannabis, she said, calling the application an administrative requirement in order to be able to distribute medical marijuana to patients.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association has said it is concerned about a lack of clinical oversight and that pharmacies should play a leading role in the distribution of medical marijuana.

When asked if they plan to follow Shoppers' lead, pharmacy chains Rexall and Jean Coutu said Monday that there are still a number of issues that still need to be resolved.

Rexall spokesman Derek Tupling said the company continues to monitor the situation, while Jean Coutu spokeswoman Helene Bisson said the issue "raises many questions" to which the various levels of government have yet to provide answers.

When asked about Shoppers Drug Mart's application, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott highlighted the "strict regulatory regime" in place for access to medical marijuana.

"There is an appropriate process by which people can become a licensed producer," Philpott said. "It's a rigorous process that I am not a part of ... they will work their way through the process."

http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/shoppers+drug+mart+applies+distributor+medical+marijuana/12316122/story.html
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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by 1sea0shell33 on Wed 26 Oct 2016, 14:42

I wonder if you'll get optimum points for the MM using your Shoppers optimum card?

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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by teentitan on Wed 26 Oct 2016, 15:25

Well MM doesn't have a DIN so it should qualify for Optimum points.
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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by Guest on Thu 27 Oct 2016, 12:51

SeaShell if you want optimum points make sure you go on seniors day at Shoppers Drug Mart and they will double your points! Very Happy

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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by Vet1234 on Fri 28 Oct 2016, 19:04

Has anyone tried the oil from Aphria?
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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by 1993firebird on Fri 28 Oct 2016, 19:07

No just the cannabis but they will convert it for free if you buy either one or both of two types that they sell.

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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by Vet1234 on Fri 28 Oct 2016, 19:08

I'm really into cooking with my prescription, I think I'll give it a try.
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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by 1993firebird on Fri 28 Oct 2016, 22:08

Mango.

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The cost of medical marijuana benefits for vets has jumped 5000% in Canada

Post by Trooper on Wed 16 Nov 2016, 16:41

The cost of medical marijuana benefits for vets has jumped 5000% in Canada

By Justin Ling on Nov 16, 2016

The Canadian government is getting gouged on its veteran medical marijuana program, and a VICE News investigation has revealed the likely culprits.

According to figures provided by Veterans Affairs Canada, the number of retired soldiers obtaining medical marijuana from the government saw a staggering 15-fold increase over just three years, with a corresponding 50-time increase in cost.

From just 112 veterans on the plan in 2013, the federal government now covers the medical marijuana prescriptions for 1,762 veterans nation-wide. The cost has gone from $400,000 to $20 million in that time. That’s a jump of 5,000 percent.

The problem, first highlighted by a report in 2015 by the Auditor General, appears to be the result of an aggressive campaign to sign-up veterans and prescribe them expensive strains of marijuana, the cost of which is billed directly to the government.



“Marijuana for medical purposes became the highest-cost item paid for under the drug component of its Health Care Benefits Program,” the report reads, adding that costs are estimated to rise to $25 million in this fiscal year — “which would amount to almost a third of the drug costs under its Health Care Benefits Program.”

VICE News has now learned that government regulators are looking at closing loopholes and potentially going after the groups responsible. That new policy is anticipated by May of 2017.

A statement provided to VICE News from Veterans Affairs did not address the source of the rising costs, except to say that there are three broad reasons at play: “The total number of beneficiaries accessing the marijuana for medical purposes, the amount of marijuana they are accessing and the cost paid for the product they are using,” a departmental spokesperson wrote in an email.

Inside the department, there are also concerns that, beyond just the huge cost, doctors and marijuana producers are doling out the drug too liberally to those who may be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and are already on other medication.

When Kurt first heard of Aphria, he was a bit skeptical. The Canadian Forces vet was taking powerful painkillers to manage his hip and back pain, but he was tired of being “wired up” on the drugs. So he turned to medical marijuana, which was new to him.

A local clinic in Ontario, in conjunction with his doctor, prescribed him 10 grams a day and referred him to Aphria, a licensed medical marijuana producer and vendor that specifically marketed itself to veterans. Their strains were selected “by veterans, for veterans,” according to the company website. Veterans identify themselves as such when signing up, and see a specialized veteran shop.

Kurt logged onto the Aphria site, which offers a sleek, easy-to-navigate online shop, and chose several strains, paying upwards of $12 per gram.

Later, his wife stumbled onto Aphria’s main site, the one available to the general public. It turns out that, as a veteran, several products were hidden from view entirely.

“Kurt, this is beyond cheaper,” she recalls telling him. Strains were offered for as low as $4 per gram. Some of those strains were exactly what Kurt was looking for — lower in THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. When they called Aphria to ask if they could switch to the other site, they were told it would be impossible.

“What do you care?” Kurt recalls the Aphria representative telling him over the phone. “You don’t pay for it anyway.” Kurt, partly in protest, switched vendors and says he’s charging $800 to $1,000 less per month now on the public health plan.

Leon, another vet, has a similar story. He was referred to CannWay, another vendor which has since been acquired by Aphria. He says they refused to provide less potent, and coincidentally cheaper, strains.

“They basically told me: ‘What’s it to you? You’re not paying for it,” he told VICE News.

His complaints and threats to refer the issue to Veterans Affairs Canada eventually led CannWay to provide him some of the other strains to try, but he said they still refused to allow him to purchase marijuana from the main, non-veteran targeted, site. So he got a referral for a different producer.

“That $3 [difference in price, per gram] might mean the difference in the service that another vet needs, and not getting,” Leon says. “That’s not right. That’s not fair.”

Aphria did not return multiple requests for comment on this story.

VICE News is keeping both veterans’ names private, at their request.

Their experiences are backed up by a video provided by a source in the medical marijuana industry — an employee at a competing company who blew the whistle on the practise of allowing veterans to only purchase the more expensive marijuana products — showing two users logging onto the webpage of MedReleaf, another vendor which sells dozens of strains at a cost of $5 to $15 a gram. But when the user logged in on a veteran’s account, many of those options disappeared. The only remaining strains run between $12.50 and $15 per gram.

Brad Cotton, a spokesperson for MedReleaf, told VICE News that his company does hide certain strains from veterans on their main site, but insists that it is because veterans had been unhappy with the cheaper options, and because they are not produced in significant enough quantity.

“We don’t withhold anything from any of our patients,” Cotton said, adding that MedReleaf representatives are trained to offer veterans the cheaper options if they call in and ask.

But what might seem like a simple $3 dollar disparity for pot can make a huge difference in the cut-throat, tight-margin world of medical marijuana. And more players are getting in on the action. The industry has spawned a branch of consultant clinics that help register patients and can rake in big bucks in referral fees.

One that has had particular success goes by the name of Marijuana For Trauma, which started outside the Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, in New Brunswick.

According to the mission statement posted to their website, the group is “not going to stop until all 15,000 [veterans in Canada] have had the option to try cannabis. When that day comes we can tip our hat and say ‘we’ve done our best.’”

Led by founders Fabian Henry and Michael Southwell, Marijuana For Trauma has been publicly lauded for demystifying medical marijuana for veterans. It now operates 12 consultant centres across the country, several of which are nearby major Canadian Forces bases. There is no other group of similar size or scope performing the same service.

Once Marijuana For Trauma identifies a new patient, it refers them to a small ring of doctors who will conduct a consultation over Skype and, if medically justified, write a prescription. The doctor usually refers the patient to a licensed producer like Aphria or CannWay. Marijuana For Trauma then works with the vendor to ensure everything is billed directly to the federal government.

Henry confirmed that process, although he wouldn’t get into specifics on exactly which vendors have relationships with Marijuana For Trauma, or give details about any referral fees for his group or the doctors.

“I’m not really privy to talk to you about that right now,” he told VICE News in an interview.

Before the first Marijuana For Trauma location opened, the postal code in which it was located — outside Oromocto, New Brunswick — had just seven veteran medical marijuana patients. They were prescribed, in total, 1,560 grams of marijuana for a total cost of $7,800, according to documents that break down the number of medical marijuana claims to the veteran drug benefit program. Two years later, after the first Marijuana For Trauma shop opened in that same postal code area, there were 115 patients, and more than 200,000 grams of marijuana prescribed, for a total cost of $2.5 million. Numbers from the first four months of 2016 show that more veterans are already being prescribed medical marijuana in that postal code, and that the total cost is on track to be higher than the year prior.

Marijuana For Trauma’s Oromocto postal code has easily the highest number of veteran medical marijuana patients in the country, and is definitely the most expensive.


The costs to the program at Gagetown are eight times higher than the Greenwood base in Nova Scotia, which is of similar size but which does not have a Marijuana For Trauma location.



This business was so good that Henry and Southwell opened up their own medical marijuana vendor in 2014, separate from Marijuana For Trauma, according to corporate registry documents obtained by VICE News. They named it CannWay, the same store that Leon says he had trouble with.

“We did own CannWay,” Henry told VICE News, adding that it was Marijuana For Trauma’s “white label” property that simply rebrands Aphria’s existing products.

Henry and Southwell sold CannWay to Aphria in early 2016 in exchange for an ownership stake in Aphria. A company press release from January said that Aphria issued up to 3.6 million in shares to the CannWay shareholders, and the final amount will be determined by how the company performs. CannWay currently trades at just under $4 per share. That means Henry, Southwell, and anyone else with a financial stake in CannWay likely made a profit off the deal.

Asked directly about the higher prices charged by CannWay to veterans, Henry stressed that his company didn’t set the price for each strain — that was done by the producer, Aphria — although his company did select which strains were available for veterans to buy.

“The cheaper the prices, the shittier the quality,” Henry said. “We don’t necessarily need the most expensive on the menu…whether it’s $6, $3, or $18, it doesn’t matter to us.”

Marijuana For Trauma, too, was bought out. This summer, the group was acquired by the Abba Medix Group, a pharmaceutical company that has been looking to break into the medical marijuana market.

Under the deal, according to corporate filings, Abba Medix paid Marijuana For Trauma shareholders $250,000 and promised as much as $4 million in cash within three years, based on “performance targets.” Marijuana For Trauma, under the deal, will be trying to obtain a license to establish itself as a marijuana producer.

When Henry spoke to the Globe & Mail about this in 2015, he was up-front about his effort to take fees from certain marijuana producers, in exchange for his group’s patient referrals.

Henry added that he works for free and says he intends to direct all of Marijuana For Trauma’s profits into a veteran-focused charity.

Asked by VICE News whether he’s spoken to Veterans Affairs Canada or Health Canada about his distribution and profit model, Henry suggested that he had not.

“I got no need to contact those people,” Henry said, adding: “Because I know how to make them pay the bill anyways.”

While business has been good for Henry’s group, business has been even better for Aphria.

In its most recent financial statements, Aphria boasted that CannWay brought an “established patient-base” and that it “has a significant market share in the veterans market, such as strong ties to the Marijuana For Trauma (MFT) community, where Aphria stands to see earnings gains.”


From 2014 to early 2016, when Aphria purchased CannWay, it went from 10 customers to more than 4,600. Now, roughly one-in-four of its customers are veterans.



A financial report prepared by Aphria for investors on “veteran market penetration” boasts that “veteran patients are heavy users consuming on average five times more than the average…patient.”

Joint CannWay-Aphria leaflets advertising the organization’s loyalty program read: “Refer a veteran and you are credited with 250 points.” Under the program, 1000 points is worth a brand new biometric safe.

Multiple calls to Aphria were not returned.

A Veterans Affairs Canada source told VICE News that the federal government is paying particular attention to the small number of doctors at the heart of this system.

An analysis of the program from the Auditor General of Canada found that, as of 2015, more than a quarter of all veterans had obtained their medical marijuana prescriptions from a single doctor. The following year, more than half of the prescriptions had come from just four physicians.

Henry himself admitted that two of the doctors who work with his organization had come under scrutiny by the government because they write so many scripts.

One of those doctors faced a formal complaint, filed by a patient’s family, after he prescribed 10 grams a day to a veteran with a history of addiction issues who later took his own life. Another one of those doctors appears to be the director of a group that was also acquired by Abba Medix in the same deal.

While it is generally accepted that marijuana can be helpful for a variety of illnesses, there is skepticism that high doses, like 10 grams a day, is appropriate, at least without supervision.

According to a Health Canada report, the clinical research available recommends a maximum prescription of just two or three grams per day. The Auditor General report looking into the medical marijuana program noted that in “an internal departmental briefing document, Health Canada indicated that more than five grams per day may increase risks with respect to the drug’s effect on the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and immune systems, and on psychomotor performance, and may increase the risk of drug dependence.”

Nevertheless, the audit notes, Veterans Affairs “set the limit at 10 grams per day per veteran, and that in rare circumstances it could increase this limit after consulting with a veteran’s health care provider.” The official policy of Veterans Affairs, however, is that while doctors may prescribe marijuana to their patients, the department doesn’t recognize the medical purpose of the drug.

Henry balked at the idea that veterans should be limited to two or three grams, arguing that there are no prescription guidelines for PTSD and that 10 grams per day may, in fact, be appropriate.

He touted his group’s work, saying that spikes in veterans switching to medical marijuana could be chalked up to many ex-service members dropping pharmaceuticals in favour of the plant.

https://news.vice.com/story/veteran-medical-marijuana-benefits-are-costing-canada-a-fortune
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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by Bruce72 on Fri 18 Nov 2016, 17:14

I'm not impressed with my supplier Aphria after reading this article. In fact I'm pretty angry.

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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by 1993firebird on Fri 18 Nov 2016, 20:04

I am with Aphria and I noticed right away that only the most expensive strains are available to Veterans , we can not see all the available strains. I asked Aphria why we only see certain ones and why just the most expensive ones and there answer was because they are the ones that treat the symptoms that Veterans have which is true but so do the other less expensive one's too.

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Re: Veterans allowed too much pot, says former NDP MP Peter Stoffer

Post by Bruce72 on Sat 19 Nov 2016, 02:30

My prescription renewal comes up next month, so I'm going to seek a new supplier that offers cheaper strains. I had no idea that many suppliers are operating unethically. I am more than willing to try to save money from the public coffers in order to help maintain the integrity of the cannabis program.

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