Ottawa has lost control of $150M program reimbursing veterans' cannabis: audit

·1 min read

OTTAWA — An internal audit by Veterans Affairs Canada suggests Ottawa has all but lost control as it shells out hundreds of millions of dollars each year for veterans' medical marijuana.

Quietly published this week, the audit found Veterans Affairs is spending more on medical pot than all other prescription drugs combined amid an explosion in demand over the past few years.

That is despite what auditors described as a lack of research about the medical benefits — and risks — of cannabis for veterans, especially those struggling with psychological trauma.

The audit uncovered serious gaps and problems in the way the department is managing the program, which cost $150 million in the last fiscal year and is expected to reach $300 million in 2025-26.

Those include a lack of direction and oversight over who can get medical marijuana, what conditions it is prescribed for, and how veterans are getting medical authorization for their cannabis.

Auditors say the government needs to establish proper guidelines while also investing in more research to protect vulnerable veterans and ensure the proper use of taxpayer dollars.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2022.

The Canadian Press