Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) paid for more than $167 million worth of cannabis in 2022-2023, or the equivalent of more than 21 thousand kg going to 21,108 medical cannabis patients.
The figures are available from a newly updated report from the federal agency. VAC paid for nearly $741 million worth of cannabis between early 2012 and June 30, 2023.
Veterans Affairs has been reimbursing veterans for the cost of cannabis for medical purposes since 2007, with the program growing rapidly ever since. In 2012, 37 clients were using the program. By 2016, there were 1,762.
That same year, the federal agency announced they were imposing a maximum three-gram per day limit based on what was, at the time, about the average prescribed amount of dried cannabis to medical cannabis patients in Canada.
The program continued to grow rapidly year over year. By 2017, there were 4,474 clients, expanding by about 3,000 a year to 21,108 at the end of 2022. So far in fiscal 2023 (as of June 30), though, that number of clients was down to 19,995.
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are both home to a large number of medical cannabis recipients on a per capita basis. Despite each province having a population of fewer than one million, New Brunswick had 2,979, and Nova Scotia had 4,038 veterans receiving medical cannabis through the Veterans Affairs program in 2022.
Comparatively, Alberta has a population of more than four million and was home to 2,187 recipients in 2022, while BC has more than 5 million people and was home to 1,668 recipients. Ontario, with a population of about 15 million, had 6,342 recipients. Quebec, with approximately nine million, had 2,260 recipients.
The price Veteran’s Affairs has paid for medical cannabis has fluctuated over the years. From 2011-2014, VAC paid about $5 a gram before it shot up to more than $10 a gram from 2015-18 and then slowly declined again just to under $7 a gram by the end of 2022.