Canadian Veterans and current members of the country’s armed forces are being invited to participate in a survey seeking to identify effective self-education tools for medical cannabis use in chronic pain.
The University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy has been supported with funding from Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans (CPCoE) for the study, which is being conducted by the University’s School of Pharmacy’s Dr. Feng Chang, a clinical pharmacist.
The survey will identify cannabis self-education tools currently in use by Canadian veterans and CAF members, the characteristics of these tools, and how they have been located by survey participants.
“Providing your voice in this study will help us determine how your needs as a Canadian Veteran or current CAF member with chronic pain can be better met,” says the study’s information letter.
The CPCoE was set up in 2020 to carry out research and help improve the well-being of CAF Veterans suffering from chronic pain – and to also support their families.
According to the Centre, veterans are twice as likely to suffer from chronic pain compared to others in the Canadian population.
Medical cannabis is in fairly wide use among Canadian veterans for chronic pain and other conditions. And unlike many other countries, there is government support through a Veterans Affairs Canada cannabis for medical purposes reimbursement policy. The policy as it currently stands reimburses veterans for up to three grams per day of dried cannabis, or its equivalent in fresh marijuana or cannabis oil, at a fixed rate of up to CAD $8.50 per gram.
The program has experienced very strong uptake in recent years and continues to grow. In fiscal year 2011-12, it supported just 37 clients. In the fiscal year 2021-2022 (to March 31), 18,388 clients were supported, with $153,780,985 paid in reimbursements for 19,351,466 grams. While it’s great veterans have this support, the ballooning costs of the program and the results of an audit have triggered calls for greater scrutiny and review on how it is being administered.
Cannabis is authorized for a variety of medical conditions in Canada (and marijuana for adult use is legal), but the country’s government acknowledges scientific evidence substantiating the efficacy and safety of cannabis is lacking.