RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

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Restricting Veterans' Medical Cannabis Will Cost Lives

Post by Trooper on Tue 13 Dec 2016, 07:16

Marc Davis

Restricting Veterans' Medical Cannabis Will Cost Lives
Posted: 12/12/2016 4:02 pm EST Updated: 12/12/2016 4:21 pm EST



Why are so many military veterans reeling with "a sense of anger, hurt, frustration and betrayal?"

And why is a group of them marching on Parliament Hill?

Shockingly, it's because ex-servicemen with PTSD aren't getting our government's respect and full support.

Consequently, the suicide rate among ex-servicemen is at an all-time high. (I'll explain in a moment.)

This disregard is going to accelerate an already alarming body count of ex-servicemen driven to suicide.

Consider this: Canadian soldiers on active duty in war-torn regions like Afghanistan have always had the benefit of a mighty military infrastructure to back them up. Whether help comes in the form of artillery fire, jet fighters, or helicopter gunships, no expense is spared to support and protect our troops when the bullets start flying.

But is the federal government willing to continue to fork out $85 a day to keep each of our veterans with PTSD out of harm's way?

Apparently not!

And this disregard is going to accelerate an already alarming body count of ex-servicemen driven to suicide, according to some veterans' advocates.

Tragically, they're probably right.

What's at issue is Veterans Affairs' recent decision to severely curtail veterans' monthly allocations of medical marijuana -- a government-paid treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain.

On Monday, a small group of ex-servicemen mobilized from the headquarters of a veterans support group -- Marijuana for Trauma (MFT) -- in Oromocto, New Brunswick.

This winter march to Ottawa is expected to take 158 days -- a figure that corresponds with the number of veterans (so far) who have committed suicide after serving in Afghanistan.

Leading the long, tough slog is Fabian Henry, an Afghanistan war veteran and PTSD sufferer, who is also MFT's founder.

En-route to Ottawa, he and his comrades-in-arms expect to encounter snow, sleet, pounding rain and frigid sub-zero temperatures.



But none of this will chill their hearts as much as Veterans Affairs' "horrendous betrayal," Henry says. "They want to save money by playing Russian roulette with veterans' lives."

He deals with suffering, stressed-out veterans every day. So I'm pretty sure he's not being melodramatic.

What's at stake is veterans' current legal access to as much as 10 grams of cannabis per day. That's meant to end on May 17 -- the day before MFT's protest march will culminate in a rally at Parliament.

The new ruling will ration each veteran to a maximum dosage of three grams a day. (Currently most consume about eight grams daily, Henry reckons.)



This is necessary because the estimated $75-million cost this year for ex-soldiers' medical marijuana prescriptions is excessive. So says the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Kent Hehr.

A lawyer by profession, Hehr hasn't put his life on the line for his country and presumably doesn't have job-related PTSD. So he may not be in the best position to regard our hurting heroes as a bunch of stoners who over-indulge at taxpayers' expense.

Among those speaking out against the cutbacks is Shauna Davies, who served for 10 years in the military. Davies recently penned a heartfelt open letter to Hehr in which she referred to herself as "the wife of an injured veteran whose life has quite literally been saved by medical cannabis."

Her husband, Cyriaque, has battled severe PTSD for nearly a decade, ever since he returned from active duty as a medic in Afghanistan.

This must be why she writes that she finders herself "torn with a sense of anger, hurt, frustration and betrayal... Veterans should not have to fight their own government for the support and compensation they have earned."

The unacceptable alternative to cannabis for her husband and other veterans is a "smorgasbord" of debilitating pharmaceutical drugs that have the combined effect of a "chemical lobotomy," she writes.



Some of these drugs can even cause veterans to become suicidal, she adds.

"I have helped my own husband from the brink after four suicide attempts, all which were proven to be directly caused by the medication interactions," the post continues. "In using medical cannabis, my husband has been able to cease using dangerous pharmaceutical medications. And he is far from alone."

Now she's terrified of what will happen if her husband's daily dosage is cut back to less than a third of what he needs. She concludes her poignant letter with a desperate plea: "This is life and death and the consequences will be devastating. I finally have my husband back. My children finally have their Daddy back. I beg you not to take him away from us again."



Even at a cost of $85 a day for 10 grams, it's still relatively inexpensive medicine. The alternative for each PTSD sufferer is a "toxic cocktail" of pharmaceutical drugs that can cost up to hundreds of dollars a day.

Is Davies asking for too much?

Is her husband's mental and emotional health worth more than 25 bucks a day? Or should her daughters resign themselves to losing their daddy again?



http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/marc-davis-/marijuana-veterans-ptsd_b_13585894.html
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Re: RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

Post by Dannypaj on Thu 29 Dec 2016, 11:40

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Veterans say mail from VAC outs medical marijuana users

Post by Trooper on Fri 30 Dec 2016, 19:00

Veterans say mail from VAC outs medical marijuana users

ANDREA GUNN | OTTAWA BUREAU
Published December 30, 2016 - 6:22pm
Last Updated December 30, 2016 - 6:22pm


This is one of the envelopes mailed out this week that has veterans accusing the government of a shocking breach of privacy.

Veterans across Canada are reporting a security breach involving mail sent out by Veterans Affairs Canada that lets anyone looking at the outside of the envelope know it was issued under the federal medical marijuana program.

Veteran Jason Hemsworth received a piece of mail with information regarding his medical marijuana prescription, which is covered through Medavie-Blue Cross. Under the little plastic window displaying his address, it reads “Re: Cannabis for Medical Purposes,” for anyone to see.

Hemsworth said he called VAC right away. After being passed back and forth between VAC and Blue Cross, Hemsworth said he spoke with a supervisor who confirmed the letter should have been sent in a windowless envelope.

The former Haligonian said 3,000 similar letters were issued.

“Having my address as well as my personal medical information put out there by those that are supposed to keep it safe is a grave violation, as well as a security risk for not only myself and my family, but for the other 3,000 veterans that received this letter,” Hemsworth said.

A photo posted on a Facebook group for Canadian veterans attracted comments from dozens of others who received similar letters.

One woman posted that she feared for her safety as she and her husband use a community mailbox, and there had been frequent burglaries in her area recently.

A call and email to Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr’s office Friday afternoon did not yield a response by deadline.

Hemsworth said in an email Friday evening that VAC staff did reply to him.

“VAC just got back to me and said they don’t feel that it’s enough of a security breach,” he said.

“They will wait until they get the report next week and review it.”

He said VAC’s position is that the mailout was handled by Canada Post, whose employees are bound to maintain confidentiality “so all is good according to them.”

http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1428198-veterans-say-mail-from-vac-outs-medical-marijuana-users
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Re: RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

Post by Dannypaj on Fri 30 Dec 2016, 19:03

He said VAC’s position is that the mailout was handled by Canada Post, whose employees are bound to maintain confidentiality?

and so are Veterans Affairs Canada, especially reference my medical condition that requires the use of MMJ.
Might as well tell them all about my medical file.
Not a happy vet,
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Canadian Armed Forces vet says "Cannabis gave me my life back"

Post by Trooper on Fri 30 Dec 2016, 19:09

Canadian Armed Forces vet says "Cannabis gave me my life back"

But new restrictions on medical marijuana program means military veterans like Darrell Hulme will only be reimbursed for a third of the medicine they need to deal with PTSD and other conditions

By MILES KENYON
DECEMBER 30, 2016 11:06 AM


Darrell Hulme could be mistaken for a medical professional.

He can list the names of near-unpronounceable antidepressants and easily articulate the differences between the various forms of therapy they’re used for. His knowledge doesn’t come from formal schooling, but years of first-hand experience with the drugs.  

After spending close to two decades in the Canadian Armed Forces, Hulme began to experience the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He was released from the military for medical reasons in 2015.

He says he was taking between 12-15 pills a day – “opioids, Benzos, SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), tranquilizers” – for almost a decade to deal with the effects of depression, anxiety and insomnia caused by his PTSD. The side effects from the drugs became so severe that he attempted suicide three times and was a patient in various psychiatric wards.

“The pharmaceuticals turned him into a monster,” says his partner, Ashley, over the phone from their home in Manitoba.

Everything changed, Hulme says, after he applied for a prescription for medical marijuana and started using various strains of cannabis to treat his condition. He felt relief for the first time in years.

Before discovering marijuana, Hulme says. “I never left my house.” Now, “I function very well as long as I have my medicine.”

He spends much of his time these days educating other veterans as well as first responders about the benefits of marijuana in helping to treat not only PTSD, but chronic pain and other ailments – “To help them get away,” he says, “from more dangerous pharmaceuticals.”

Hulme volunteers for Marijuana for Trauma Inc. (MFT), a New Brunswick-based, veteran-operated medical marijuana referral service, recently acquired by Abba Medix Group. MFT runs 14 clinics across Canada, assisting some 4,000 clients with the ins and outs of navigating the federal government’s medical marijuana access program. MFT also offers peer and spousal support programs.

“Cannabis can kick addiction. I’ve seen it in hundreds of cases including my own pharmaceutical addiction and alcohol abuse,” says Hulme.

But now, because of a recent federal government decision, he’s afraid his nightmare will return.

In November, Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr announced new restrictions on the medical marijuana reimbursement policy. Effective May 2017 veterans, who are currently reimbursed for up to 10 grams of cannabis per day, will only be eligible for a maximum three grams a day.

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) cites information from the College of Family Physicians of Canada, which instructs medical professionals “to start low and go slow” when it comes to prescribing marijuana, as part of its rationale for the change. VAC says that three grams should be plenty for most individuals – the average dispensed by Health Canada’s medical marijuana program for all patients is 2.6 grams.

The government also cites possible abuse by licensed producers as a reason for the changes. Under the new rules, they will only be allowed to charge a maximum $8.50 a gram. As previously reported, some producers and storefront dispensaries have been directing veterans to specific products that were priced much higher, upwards of $15 a gram.

According to the department, 3,071 veterans have claimed $31 million in medical pot from April to September this year, a significant increase from the five veterans who claimed $19,088 when the program first started in 2008.

Overall use of the prescription drug program also available to vets has trended downward in the last few years, confirms VAC press secretary Sarah McMaster, leading some to question if a decrease in pharmaceutical spending requires a policy change where medical marijuana is concerned. However, McMaster contends there is no link between the two and that the trend in pharmaceutical use "can be attributed in part" to the fewer veterans using the prescription drug program.

The new reimbursement program will include exemptions for vets in “exceptional circumstances.” That process, according to a VAC backgrounder, “will require additional documentation from medical specialists [a psychiatrist, pain specialist, oncologist] related to a veteran’s specific needs.

“The opinion of the medical specialist must include the rationale for the use of more than three grams, confirmation that there are no contraindications, and an indication that alternative treatments were ineffective or contraindicated.”

Hulme, who uses 10 grams a day, is worried the new policy will leave many veterans with PTSD where they started “back in the basement again, stuck in the bottom of a bottle, trying to get to sleep at night.”  

“[Cannabis] gave me my life back,” he says.

A group of veterans is planning a nationwide march to Parliament Hill to protest the decision, organized by Marijuana for Trauma Inc. The group plans on landing on the steps of Parliament Hill just days before the new policy comes into effect.

Some in the industry support the coming changes.

“In our clinic, the average prescription is about a gram per day, maybe less than a gram a day,” says Ronan Levy, director at Canadian Cannabis Clinics, the largest clinic specializing in connecting weed-friendly doctors to patients in the country.

But others, like Dr. Greg Passey, a psychiatrist who often treats individuals for PTSD – an area he knows very well, being a former soldier – believe the policy changes are shortsighted, if not hypocritical.

Passey says many pharmaceutical drugs typically used to treat PTSD are not specifically approved for the condition, meaning that doctors are left to prescribe what they believe will best suit their patients. He argues the same should be true for cannabis.

“Veteran’s Affairs says there’s not a lot of evidence about marijuana and its efficacy, but they have no problem paying for a very expensive medication for which there is absolutely no evidence that it’s beneficial in PTSD.

“The issue is: we treat the individual, we don’t treat the group. I’ve got some people who only require one gram and I’ve got some people who take 10 grams.”

He says that doctors often prescribe over the recommended doses for some pain medications and anti-psychotics because they prove to be effective for some patients. Passey argues that for the government to intervene in deciding what should be a legal limit for prescribing marijuana is completely outside its jurisdiction.

“It’s interfering in the doctor-patient relationship and the treatment regime and that’s not appropriate,” he says.

Passey says most vets who require more than three grams a day won’t be approved for the exemptions because there are very few medical professionals who specialize in PTSD treatment and even fewer who are also knowledgeable in the prescription of medical marijuana.

He argues the new regime will preclude some vets from receiving treatment that has been effective for them – and may fly in the face of a June 2015 Supreme Court of Canada decision, which found restricting access to marijuana unconstitutional.

Says Hulme, “We’ve fought long enough and we’re tired of fighting. We know we’re going to die without this stuff.”

https://nowtoronto.com/news/cannabis-gave-me-my-life-back/
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Re: RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

Post by Bruce72 on Fri 30 Dec 2016, 19:13

I also received a similar, personal information breaching letter.

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Re: RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

Post by Dannypaj on Sun 01 Jan 2017, 12:16

More on the new white envelope syndrome case with a clear window for all to see.
Now that is transparency!!!
If the GoC could be as transparent. 

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/nova-scotia/canada-veterans-medical-marijuana-privacy-1.3917768
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Re: RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

Post by Bruce72 on Sun 01 Jan 2017, 12:19

Kim Davis said she was surprised when she was sorting through her mail last week and saw in bold letters through an envelope window, "RE: Cannabis for Medical Purposes."

The unopened letter was addressed to her husband, a veteran, who in September started taking edible cannabis to help cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

"It has breached privacy on all different levels. If you follow the privacy protection act for health-care professionals, it breaks that," said Davis, who lives in Lawrencetown, N.S.

The letter was signed by Veterans Affairs Canada, but it arrived in a Medavie Blue Cross envelope. Davis said the envelope outed her husband as a medical marijuana user. 

There are 3,000 veterans in Canada who use medical marijuana. The letter inside the envelope had to do the stricter limits from Ottawa on medical marijuana for veterans.

Security breach

Carla Murray, who lives in southeast Saskatchewan, said her husband, who is a veteran, also received the letter. She said he was furious.

"It's no different then them putting on the outside of the envelope that my husband is on OxyContin or that my husband is on a psychotic drug," Murray said.

"They took away the right of the veteran to choose who he does and does not tell what his medication is." 

Murray said she is concerned about the wrong eyes seeing the envelope with their address on it. She said there have been break-ins in her neighbourhood recently.

'They've made us a target'

"With the break-ins we've had around here, they're looking for drugs, pharmaceuticals and alcohol. If they know we have government-bought cannabis, how do I know we're secure? ... They've made us a target," Murray said.

A similar incident happened with Health Canada in 2013, when envelopes marked "Marijuana Medical Access Program" were sent out to medical marijuana users across the country. That case is still before the courts.

Davis said she blames Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr for the newest incident.

"There was a breach. You have breached confidence and confidentiality and privacy here. What's to review? Is your review going to include hiring security guards to stay at our houses or give us alarm systems in our homes? Probably not," she said.

Situation being reviewed

Murray said the breach makes veterans who are vulnerable even more so.

"It's just a horrible thing to do to somebody whose mental illness has major security issues," Murray said.

CBC News contacted Veterans Affairs Canada for comment on Saturday, but the department did not immediately respond.

Medavie Blue Cross told CBC News in an email Saturday that it is working with Veterans Affairs Canada to review the situation and address concerns.

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/nova-scotia/canada-veterans-medical-marijuana-privacy-1.3917768

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Veterans may sue over marijuana privacy breach

Post by Trooper on Sun 01 Jan 2017, 17:45

Veterans may sue over marijuana privacy breach

ANDREA GUNN
Published January 1, 2017 - 6:33pm
Last Updated January 1, 2017 - 6:37pm\

Veterans Affairs Canada could be facing another lawsuit after a privacy breach involving 3,000 veterans who are part of the federal medical marijuana program.

Veterans began reporting the breach Friday that effectively outed them as medical marijuana users.

A VAC mailout informing patients about recent reimbursement changes lets anyone looking at the outside of the envelope know it was issued under the federal medical marijuana program.

A photo of the letter posted by caregiver Carla Murray on a Facebook group for Canadian veterans shows the phrase “Re: Cannabis for Medical Purposes" on the envelope.

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr’s office responded to concerns on Friday after being contacted by the Chronicle Herald.

“We take the privacy of veterans very seriously and have asked the department to review this situation with Medavie-Blue Cross,” the spokesman said.

Murray, whose husband uses medical marijuana to treat a variety of conditions, called the violation a slap in the face.

She said she and her husband are concerned for their safety as their Saskatchewan neighbourhood has been the target of more than 20 break-ins in recent months, most by people seeking drugs and booze.

Murray said the experience has been triggering her husband’s PTSD.

“(For many people) with PTSD, especially veterans, security is the whole issue. It’s always about whether your house is secure, whether your family is safe,” she said. “Paranoia is part of it.”

Murray has reached out to VAC and a resolution officer is supposed to be in touch with her. But, she said, it’s not good enough.

“The damage has already been done.”

She said she is planning to get in touch with a lawyer to discuss legal options.

A similar situation arose in November of 2013, when more than 41,000 Canadians received letters from Health Canada revealing them as medical marijuana users.

The envelopes had the phrase “Marihuana Medical Access Program” on the outside in the return address beside the name and address of the recipient.

A class action is still before the courts.

Veteran Jason Hemsworth said Friday he received a piece of mail with information regarding his medical marijuana prescription, which is covered through Medavie-Blue Cross. It had “Re: Cannabis for Medical Purposes" on the outside.

Inside it said “Protected — Personal Information.”

Hemsworth said a VAC supervisor confirmed the letter should have been sent in a windowless envelope.

“Having my address as well as my personal medical information put out there by those that are supposed to keep it safe is a grave violation, as well as a security risk for not only myself and my family,” he said.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1428555-veterans-may-sue-over-marijuana-privacy-breach
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Re: RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

Post by Dannypaj on Mon 02 Jan 2017, 06:49

"Although the Court of Appeal noted that in most cases, damage awards will not exceed $20,000, there could still be some cases where a plaintiff may be able to prove pecuniary loss, in which case, damages could be awarded in excess of that amount. However, because the Court of Appeal capped damages for non-pecuniary loss for "intrusions upon seclusion" at $20,000, most of these types of claims will be litigated in the Ontario Small Claims Court, where the monetary jurisdiction is for claims of up to $25,000".

Three thousand out of how many Canadians that now have been singled out and with our medical information displayed for all to see.

WE ARE THREE THOUSAND STRONG PLUS FAMILY AND FRIENDS
THANNKS GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
FOR DOING BUSINESS ON THE DIME
AND WE PAY FOR IT.
THAT'S MY MEDICAL INFORMATION DISPLAYED, IT IS A CAUSE FOR SERIOUS CONCERN.


Last edited by Dannypaj on Mon 02 Jan 2017, 06:57; edited 1 time in total
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Re: RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

Post by Dannypaj on Mon 02 Jan 2017, 06:56

How come we let this happen over and over again?
Love to see how many eyes read my file,
too many.
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Re: RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

Post by tetech on Mon 02 Jan 2017, 07:50

HI

Not sure if anyone has seen this, but a number of "LP's" have been using unapproved pesticides on the medical Cannabis.

Two i've heard of, Organigram and mettrum. Both are down to one or not dried products:

http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/organigram-announces-voluntary-product-recall-2185787.htm

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Re: RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

Post by Bruce72 on Mon 02 Jan 2017, 08:49

When I tried to order from Aphria today online I have no access to available strains, but when I log out I have access to available strains, but can't order.

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Re: RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

Post by Dannypaj on Mon 02 Jan 2017, 09:41

I now call directly to Cannimed inc. for my MMJ.
In the past I could order it through Cannmed inc. and it was directly billed to VAC.
Recently noticed I was declined on my renewal, more information needed for blue cross.
Just a heads up.
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Re: RESTRICTING VETERANS' MEDICAL CANNABIS WILL COST LIVES

Post by Dannypaj on Mon 02 Jan 2017, 09:48


Registration number########



Adjustment Code

10 - PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Date22-December-2016
Expense submitted$172.50
Rejected

Registration number######



Adjustment Code

10 - PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Date19-December-2016
Expense submitted$471.50
Rejected
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