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Study Finds Cannabis Dispensaries Reduce Opioid Deaths by 21%

Access to legal cannabis may help some patients avoid opioids altogether. Others may use cannabis to reduce opioid intake, or beat a dependancy.

In a study published this week in the journal Economic Inquiry, researchers found that the legalization of adult-use cannabis reduced opioid overdose deaths by 21%. Researchers found that ‘recreational marijuana access significantly decreases opioid mortality.’

The study, carried out by economists at the University of Massachusetts and Colorado State University, found that legalization had “particularly pronounced effects for synthetic opioids” such as fentanyl.

Confirms Previous Studies

This week’s study backs up previous work on the question. A 2014 JAMA study found that states with medical marijuana laws saw 25% fewer deaths from opioid overdose compared to states without.

Last year two further studies found lower opioid prescription rates in legal states. A University of Kentucky researcher found a 6% lower rate of opioid prescriptions for pain in medical marijuana states, and a 12% lower opioid prescription rate in adult-use states. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Georgia found that Medicare patients in medical marijuana states filled 14% fewer daily doses of opioids than patients in other states.

There were 47,600 deaths from opioids in the United States in 2017. A reduction of 21% would imply nearly 10,000 lives saved.


Three Ways Cannabis Can Help

The Economic Inquiry study does not suggest the exact mechanisms by which cannabis helps reduce opioid deaths. But in a 2017 interview with Leafly, Canadian researcher Philippe Lucas laid out three primary avenues for amelioration. Lucas suggested that pain patients might bypass the use of opioids altogether if physicians recommended trying medical cannabis first, rather than opioids first. If the cannabis provides sufficient relief, opioids would never need to come into the equation.

Second, cannabis may help patients using opioids to use fewer opioids or find more effective relief at lower dosage levels.

Third, cannabis may help those with an opioid dependency transition to replacement therapy with methadone.

The key, said Lucas, is a substitution effect that doesn’t have to be full and complete to be useful. Cannabis can be a therapeutic agent for some patients, and it can also act as a harm reduction agent for those who can’t completely stop their use of opioids. For those patients, cannabis may not be a complete substitute, but it may allow them to lower their opioid dosage and use and thereby stay alive.

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CannTrust, ‘leading’ medical cannabis provider, halts sales amid Health Canada probe

CannTrust, which describes itself as a “leading” provider of medical cannabis, has voluntarily halted all sales and shipments of its product after Health Canada found that it was growing cannabis in five unlicensed rooms and after the ministry received inaccurate information.

The company has also set up a special committee to investigate the matter.

CannTrust is doing this as a “precaution” as Health Canada investigates the company’s facility in Vaughan, Ont., a company release said Thursday.“CannTrust is working closely with the regulator through the review process and expects to provide further detail of the duration of the hold and other development as they become available,” the release added.

The moves come after the company said it had placed a hold on over 5,000 kg of dried cannabis that had been grown in unlicensed rooms at a facility in Pelham, Ont. between October 2018 and March 2019.

The company had applications for the rooms pending with Health Canada at the time.

CannTrust announced on Monday that it had placed a hold on approximately 7,500 kg of dried cannabis equivalent at its facility in Vaughan. That product had been produced in the unlicensed rooms in Pelham, CannTrust said.

The Ontario Cannabis Store announced Wednesday that it was pulling some of the company’s products from online sales, and from being shipped to brick-and-mortar stores, as Health Canada investigated.

Any customers who had ordered CannTrust product were eligible for refunds if the products were returned unopened within two weeks of delivery.

CannTrust serves over 72,000 medical patients with dried, extract and capsule products, it said in the release. The company operates a harvest facility in Pelham and a manufacturing facility in Vaughan.



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How to travel across Canada with Cannabis

weed travel canada

April 12th 2019

What you can bring

Whether in your checked luggage or carry-on, you’re permitted to carry up to 30g of recreational marijuana, with cannabis oil falling under general liquid restrictions (remember, you can only pack up to 100mL in your carry-on). If you have a greater amount due to a medical marijuana prescription, you’ll need to have your documentation ready. Make sure that your medical marijuana documentation aligns with the guidelines of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations so that you don’t run into any hassles during travel.
Watch your age

The legal age for marijuana usage varies across Canada, as it does for alcohol consumption. Before you fly across provinces and territories, check to be sure that you’re allowed to land in your destination with cannabis. Not sure what the legal age is across the country? Keep an eye on Quebec: the government there has plans to increase the legal age limit for cannabis consumption from 18 to 21

Remember — don’t travel with more than the limits for recreational cannabis use, and don’t dip across Canadian borders with marijuana in your possession! Stay updated on travel requirements and guidelines, pack appropriately, and give yourself a bit of extra time to get through airport security, just in case. Then fly off to your next destination and spark a lil something to celebrate.




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Cannabis entrepreneurs in ‘tough spot’ after Ontario caps licenses


December 18th 2018

Ontario Caps Cannabis Retail Licenses!

 Koby Smutylo leased 2 stores in Ottawa before government’s 25 licenses cap
Leah Hansen · Cannabis entrepreneur Koby Smutylo said he is frustrated with the provincial government’s decision to cap the number of licenses for retail pot shops.

An Ottawa cannabis entrepreneur who’s already leased two spaces for prospective stores says he’s frustrated with the Ontario government’s decision to cap the number of licenses for retail pot shops.

The province initially said it would not limit the number of licenses issued for retail stores, but it reversed course last week, saying it would take a “phased approach” due to “severe supply shortages” across the country.

Only 25 licenses will be issued to private retailers by Apr. 1 during the “initial phase,” with a lottery system to determine which owners are eligible.

Koby Smutylo is the president of Retailgo Corp., a company that operates a proposed dispensary chain called Ouid (pronounced “weed”).

He’s already leased storefronts on Bank Street and Elgin Street and has hired staff and consultants to strengthen his application. But with the limited number of licences to be handed out through a lottery system rather than by merit, Smutylo said he’s afraid his efforts are wasted.

“It’s amazing how much work went into each application, and here we are ready and … the government decides that the rules are completely different,” Smutylo said.

“We don’t believe that’s very fair.”

Eugene Oscapella, a professor of criminology and drug policy at the University of Ottawa, said the cap on licenses is likely to benefit the black market as consumers face longer waits for physical storefronts. Small business owners may also face especially tough consequences, he said.

“The government changed courses in midstream, and unfortunately, the entrepreneurs are going to pay the price,” he said. “It’s not very business-friendly.”
Government cites ‘severe shortage’ Before legalization, around 20 illegal cannabis stores were open in Ottawa alone. Most closed their doors after legalization in order to apply for a licence to open again in April.

In a joint statement Dec. 13, Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Finance Minister Vic Fedeli cited “national supply shortages” as the reason for restricting the number of licences.

“Taking into consideration the required investments for a prospective Ontario private legal retailer, we cannot in good conscience issue an unlimited number of licences to businesses in the face of such shortages,” their statement said.


Worries for small businesses

Trina Fraser, a partner with the law firm Brazeau Sellers, said the licence cap has the potential to hit small businesses especially hard.

“If you don’t have those very deep pockets of a large, corporate retail venture, you could be in a tough spot right now,” she said.

“At the very least, you’re sitting on your thumbs … while 25 other retailers are establishing their brands and getting a head start on you.”

It’s even possible that large companies could buy out small operations that are granted one of the available licenses, she said, squeezing “mom-and-pop” stores out of the market.

And if entrepreneurs have already signed a lease, the limited number of licenses now available means they could be at risk of losing everything.

There are some who are in a real bad predicament right now.

– Trina Fraser, lawyer

“Now that the time for them to open the store has been delayed for an undetermined amount of time, they might not be able to fund the carrying costs of that location,” she said.

“So there are some who are in a real bad predicament right now.”

Smutylo said that thankfully, he isn’t one of those people — he’s able to terminate his leases if necessary, though it’s a step he hopes he won’t have to take.

“We think there’s still an opportunity to get the licenses,” he said.

“We’ve been so diligent in putting together our applications that one way or another, we’re here. And we’ll open shop when we’re allowed to.”




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Canadian cannabis producer Tilray Inc. shares surging 94 per cent on Wednesday.

Canadian cannabis

SEPTEMBER 20th, 2019

Canadian cannabis producer Tilray Inc. has had a record-breaking week on the stock market, with shares surging 94 per cent on Wednesday.

The daily percentage gains of pot stocks have even surpassed giant players in the market like Microsoft, Facebook and Exxon Mobil.

Canadian producer Tilray to export medical cannabis to U.S. for clinical trial

Tilray, which completed its initial public offering on the Nasdaq in July with shares priced at US$17, earlier this week said it got approval to export medical cannabis to the U.S. for a clinical trial.

Since the news, the Nanaimo, B.C.-based weed producer’s stocks have skyrocketed. It closed at US$214.06 on Wednesday, after trading as high as US$300.

Tilray’s market valuation reached more than US$19 billion Wednesday (the total dollar amount of a company’s outstanding shares). To put this in perspective, this put Tilray’s U.S. market value ahead of brewer Molson Coors, casino operator Wynn Resorts and American Airlines.

Tilray’s wild ride on the stock market is reminiscent of the bitcoin crazy last year and even the height of the dot-com bubble at the turn of the century.


Why are cannabis shares, like Tilray, on fire?

Tilray’s announcement came ahead of other great news in the cannabis industry. In August, Constellation Brands, which makes beers like Corona and Negro Modelo, invested $4 billion in Ontario pot producer Canopy Growth.

On Monday, BNN Bloomberg reported the company was in talks with B.C.-based marijuana producer, Aurora Cannabis, to make CBD-infused wellness drinks. However, Aurora has since said it has not signed a deal but is in conversation with beverage makers.

This caused Tilray, Canopy Growth and Aurora’s stocks to rise.

Scarcity could be another factor for Tilray’s growth, according to Greg Taylor, a portfolio manager with Toronto-based Purpose Investments.

“Once Canopy did a deal with Constellation Brands, it validated the cannabis space. A lot of global investors all of a sudden woke up,” he said.

“Tilray was the first company to do direct investment on Nasdaq — so for U.S. investors, way easier to buy stock.”

But the new cannabis industry has a lot of “space in the market” that investors are still not playing in. A lot of banks are not allowed to invest in weed stocks, so mutual funds can’t invest.

Instead, hedge fund and retail investors are eyeing cannabis stocks. But Taylor warns, this can create a lot of volatility in the market.

Should you invest in pot?

Taylor said the cannabis industry could get messy after legalization.

This is because some provinces are still not ready. Ontario has already delayed the launch of its cannabis retail stores and B.C. is also pushing back on the deadline, Taylor said.

“So cannabis companies may miss quarters,” he said.

However, Taylor said after legalization it may be a good time for investors to start researching. Right now cannabis stocks are flourishing because of “hype” but there isn’t any cash flowing in, so it’s tricky to know how well the company will do.

“But in six months to a year from now, they will be a real company with CFOs and operating costs. This will be the time to find out who is winning. This is a commodity at the end of the day and they need to create a brand if they want to win.”




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Doctors want medical pot phased out after legalization

medical pot

August 7th, 2018


Doctors in Canada want to see the medical cannabis system phased out once legalization happens later this year, says a Canadian Medical Association vice-president.

“The medical profession, as a whole, has really struggled with the whole concept of medical cannabis. There’s definitely some physicians who feel comfortable in that area but most don’t,” Dr. Jeff Blackmer, vice-president of medical professionals for the Canadian Medical Association, told CBC Calgary News at 6.

“And [that is] primarily because of the lack of evidence, the lack of scientific studies showing it actually works, the lack of knowledge around dosing and interactions with other medications — all these types of things. Our recommendation was that once it is legalized, that there really is no reason for a separate medical system.”

The federal government has tabled legislation that will make marijuana legal in Canada on Oct. 17.

A lack of clinical studies is the reason most health care plans in Canada don’t cover the cost of medical marijuana, said Blackmer.

“Right now, the type of evidence, the quality of evidence that we typically look for before approving drugs. Or before funding drugs, isn’t there for cannabis,” he said. “That’s not necessarily to say that it won’t be there in the future. And certainl,y that’s something that a lot of physicians are watching carefully.”

Education, said Blackmer, will be important in the lead-up to legalization.

“The reason for that is there’s a lot of misperceptions around cannabis and we know that, from surveys and studies that have been done,” he said. “We really want people, when they’re deciding whether or not to use cannabis once is becomes legalized, to make an informed decision. To understand there are risks associated with that, that there are potential health consequences.”

Dr. Jeff Blackmer says many doctors don’t feel comfortable prescribing marijuana due to a lack of study around the effects of consuming cannabis. (Robyn Miller)

One concern Blackmer has centres around teenagers using cannabis. Some provinces — including Alberta — have set the minimum age for use at 18, while others set the minimum age at 19.

“We know that more young people use this substance than older people. We know it is something teenagers often try in high school and we know that it has a detrimental impact,” he said.

“There’s a difference between a 15-year-old smoking cannabis versus someone who’s in their 40s, where the brain is already fully developed. It does have a detrimental impact [in young people] and we’ve seen that in studies and surveys and other research.”

Cannabis is set to be legalized in Canada on Oct. 17. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)

Once legalization happens, Blackmer said, there will be no reason for people to access it through their doctor.

“If anyone can go down to the local dispensary and get cannabis. There’s really no need for a separate medical authorization system. You really don’t need to have people going to their doctors. Because anyone who has a medical condition and thinks they might benefit from it can go ahead and try it,” he said.

“And there’s nothing to stop them from asking their doctor, ‘might it work for this condition’. Or ‘do you have any idea about what doses I should use,’ or these types of things.”
Doctors want education to be a big component of marijuana legalization. (Ron Ward/Canadian Press )

Blackmer says the number of medical authorizations has gone down in jurisdictions. Where cannabis has been legalized, something he expects to see here as well.

“The hypothesis is that there’s a lot of people who may have initially turned to the medical system to get access who now don’t need to do that anymore. So the number of prescriptions, or authorizations, seems to go down,” he said. “And that’s sort of what we’re anticipating in Canada, that the system sort of phases itself out over time, as we get more experience with [legalization].

“There will be some physicians who feel that this has a real place in terms of treatment options and will continue to have those conversations with patients. But we’re hoping for the vast majority of physicians who are uncomfortable. It will mean their patients can just seek it out on their own. They won’t have to find another doctor or to go to a cannabis clinic. They can go down to the dispensary and see if it works for themselves.”


Not a typical prescription

And it’s “more accurate to say authorized,” rather than prescribed, says Blackmer.

“It’s not a typical prescription because it’s not something where you’d give it to a patient on a piece of paper. And they’d take it to a pharmacy of their choice — that’s really a prescription,” he said.

“An authorization is something the doctor authorizes and faxes it or emails it to a specific distributor of cannabis. And then the patient goes through that distributor, so it’s definitely a different process.”



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Is Canada’s Marijuana the New Bitcoin? Stocks Surge After Legalization

Canada's Marijuana

July 4th, 2018

Canada gets ready to implement legal recreational marijuana later this year, the U.S. neighbor’s cannabis stocks have surged and some experts suggest marijuana could be the next Bitcoin.

“I believe the incredible tailwinds blowing at legal marijuana’s back make it so the opportunity here is much like the one internet stocks offered in 1994 … or the one bitcoin offered in 2015,” Matt McCall, founder, and president of Penn Financial Group wrote for Investor Place.

Cannabis stocks were also among Canada’s best performing last year. Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis are the top publicly traded marijuana companies, and those who invested in them a year ago have “easily reaped Bitcoin-like returns,” Canada’s Global News reported.

After Canada’s parliament voted to legalize recreational weed on June 19, marijuana stocks in the country immediately surged. Canopy, the nation’s largest producer, increased by 6 percent to a record high of $34.17. Arora increased by 3.8 percent and Cronos Group Inc., another marijuana company, surged 6.2 percent, Bloomberg

Marijuana activist Chris Lawson makes a speech on stage during a rally in support of legalizing marijuana on June 5, 2004, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada. After Canada’s parliament voted to legalize recreational weed on June 19, marijuana stocks in the country immediately surged. Donald Weber/Getty Images

Canada’s legal marijuana industry is already valued in the billions. The estimated worths of the top companies such as Canopy and Aurora about $6.7 billion and $3.8 billion respectively. With legalization set for October 17, most experts expect rapid growth over the next few months.

“If you missed the opportunity to make 50 times your money in internet stocks … or if you missed out on the opportunity to make 50 times your money in bitcoin, you’re going to want to know how to play weed,” McCall wrote.

Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now

A 26-year-old Canadian engineer who plans to invest in the cannabis market, but prefers to remain anonymous due to the persistent stigma, told Newsweek that those who invested last October and November have quadrupled their money. However, right now “it’s more of ‘fear of missing out'”, he said. “There’ll probably be another spike in October [of this year] … so I’ll bet on that.”

At the same time, experts have also cautioned that some companies won’t be able to meet their commitments once cannabis is fully legalized. Some also suggest that there won’t be enough weed to go around.

“I think there are companies very well suited to back up what they’re saying, and I think there are some that are just hoping for the best,” Matt Bottomley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, told Bloomberg. “There are some in this market that is not going to be long-term participants.”

Bruce Linton, who leads Canopy, also predicts “there will be a massive undersupply in 2018,” according to Global News.

Allan Gregory, a professor of economics at Queen’s University, told the Canadian news outlet that he doesn’t think cannabis is “an investment product for the faint of heart.”

While stocks will surge and many companies will launch in the coming months, Gregory warned that while not “every marijuana stock is going to fall … the losers will outweigh the winners.”

Another potential risk to the Canadian marijuana market is the reaction from the U.S. While nine U.S. states have legalized cannabis for recreational use, and 30 have done so for medical purposes. It remains completely illegal under federal law.

Uruguay, the first nation to decide to legalize recreational marijuana in 2013, has felt the repercussions of this legal reality. Top U.S. banks have refused to do business with Uruguayan banks that manage money from legal cannabis sales. The banks have cited U.S. federal regulations against drug trafficking and money laundering. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also reportedly warned Canadian lawmakers prior to Ottawa’s vote. He said that legalization could cause problems for Canadians.

Although it remains unclear whether banks will take a similar stance when it comes to Canada. Hannah Hetzer, senior international policy manager at Drug Policy Alliance, believes the U.S. neighbor’s prominence could shelter it from a similar fallout.

“It really remains to be seen if U.S. banks will do the same for Canadian banks, ”Hetzer previously told Newsweek. “We might just see that U.S. banks decide to say nothing in this case,” she said. But added that “it could create an obstacle” if banks decide to take a stance against Ottawa’s new policy.
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‘Deeply concerned’: Marijuana legalization moving too fast for most Canadians

Marijuana legalization

June 29th,2018


The majority of Canadians want marijuana legalization delayed for up to one year. The reason is to give federal and provincial governments more time. And, to figure out how to deal with the societal implications, according to a new poll.

After the Cannabis Act passed its final vote in parliament last week, Justin Trudeau announced that marijuana will become legal on Oct. 17, giving provinces and territories just under four months to get ready. But 55 per cent of Canadians want legalization delayed, and 69 per cent are worried that the black market will continue to thrive because legal cannabis will cost more, according to a new Dart Insight poll conducted earlier this month.

In fact, six out of 10 Canadians think the Cannabis Act “is just a big political move to get votes and nothing else.” This sentiment is most common in Alberta (68  per cent) and Quebec (64 per cent), while 51 per cent of people in B.C. disagree. This view of men (62 per cent) than women (55 per cent). But even 58 per cent of young Canadians, aged 18-34, agree that the Liberals legalized marijuana for political gain.

“We’ve got a majority of people in this country, about half the population, that is deeply concerned that marijuana is going to roll out and key sections of society are not prepared to deal with it,” said John Wright, CEO of Dart Insight. “The motive is purely political, but the impact at the local level is very real…. If it comes off the rails, the Liberals may pay a price for it in the next election.”

A majority of Canadians (55 per cent) and 61 per cent of people over 55 think that their province is not ready to deal with stoned drivers.

More than 60 per cent of people in Quebec and Alberta do not think their government has an effective plan in place. While people are more likely to think their province is prepared in Ontario (52 per cent).

“The issue with driving under the influence is, how do you detect it? Especially when there are edibles on the market. How do you measure it? How do you detect it? And, how do you identify who is under the influence and by how much?” Wright said. “We have a lot of science on alcohol but not on (cannabis).”

The country is split on how legalization will affect minors. Just over half (51 per cent) of those surveyed think underaged kids are more likely to get addicted to marijuana than cigarettes. Two-thirds of Quebecers (64 per cent) are concerned about this, while the majority of people in B.C. (57 per cent), and Alberta and Atlantic Canada (56 per cent) disagree. Most Canadians (73 per cent) want joints to be treated like cigarettes, including how they are packaged.

In another attempt to protect children, the poll found that 67 per cent of Canadians think adults with children should be banned from smoking marijuana at home. Women (70 per cent) were more likely to hold this view than men (63 per cent).

“The federal government has been on this path for the last couple of years. But the rubber doesn’t hit the road at the federal level, it does so at the provincial level. That’s where ground level distribution, intoxication, resourcing issues lie,” Wright said. “I think these are legitimate concerns.”

The online survey was conducted from June 8 to 13 and polled a representative sample of 2,560 members of the Maru/Blue Online panel. The results are accurate to within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


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Weed at work: N.L. employers prepare for legalization


June 6th,2018


Lawyer Blair Pritchett leading marijuana in the workplace seminar in St. John’s.

Blair Pritchett is helping businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador prepare for legal cannabis. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

In anticipation of marijuana, dry herb, weed vaporizers, becoming legal across Newfoundland and Labrador, and in the rest of Canada, employers still have many unanswered questions.

Some of them have been turning to lawyer Blair Pritchett, a partner at McInnes Cooper in St. John’s.

He led a half-day seminar on Tuesday at Memorial University to brief them about what they’ll have to look out for when the pot is legalized.

“I think the biggest issue is going to be … the issue of residual intoxication” said Pritchett in an interview with CBC Radios On the Go.

“A lot of drugs … we have a more firm understanding about how long they stay in your system, how long they’re psychoactive, and how long they impair your performance and marijuana that’s very much up in the air.”

He said it also isn’t clear how many people will start smoking weed when it’s finally legal.

“There’s a small part of me that thinks that this may be another Y2K phenomenon,” he said.

“That [day] will come along and the world will keep spinning, and the people that consume marijuana in their own time in their own way will continue to do so and we won’t see a serious change in circumstances.”
Strict drug testing laws in Canada

One of the things employers will want to do is make sure their employees aren’t using or impaired from marijuana while at work.

Pritchett said in Canada employers can only test employees for intoxication if there’s reasonable cause, or if it’s suspected following a workplace accident.

“It’s certainly not like the United States where you can randomly test your workforce as you see fit,” he said.

In the meantime, employers will have to assess on the job performance on a case-by-case basis.

He’s hopeful that after legalization there will be more evidence of how long the effects of marijuana linger after ingestion.

“Until there’s a bit of an advance in the scientific understanding it’s going to be very difficult to sort out when can you comfortably [know] somebody is no longer impaired,” said Pritchett.

“But at the end of the day, that uncertainty about how many more people will be using. How much bigger a problem might on the job intoxication be, that’s what scares people right now.”


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Veterans with PTSD to take Ottawa to court over cuts to medical marijuana funding

medical marijuana

May 8th, 2018

New Brunswick veterans with PTSD are preparing to take the federal government to court in hopes of winning a declaration that Veteran’s Affairs Canada violated their rights when it reduced the amount of medicinal marijuana it would cover.

Members of the group use the drug to treat their service-related injuries. In an unusual move, instead of seeking payments for damages, the veterans plan to ask a federal court to rule that VAC violated its obligation to vets last May, when it reduced the daily allowance of medical cannabis by 70 per cent, from 10 grams to three.

David Lutz, the Saint John-based lawyer who is representing the plaintiffs. He said they want to be compensated for enough cannabis to avoid resorting to prescription drugs. It is to control the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions. The lawsuit, which has yet to be filed, could also seek a declaration. It is that VAC must address the rights violation by restoring funding to its previous level.

“We are asking for a declaration by the court that reducing from 10 grams to three grams. It is a violation of the government’s obligation to the veterans,” Mr. Lutz said. “We need to make a new law here.”

When the cuts were instituted last May. More than 2,500 veterans across the country had the authorization to use more than three grams of medicinal marijuana a day to treat symptoms of PTSD, chronic pain and more. Even though scientific evidence on its use as a treatment is scant.

The cuts forced all of those veterans onto lower doses. And many former soldiers told The Globe and Mail they tried to take their own lives to avoid relapsing with uncontrollable symptoms. Some followed through, including one veteran who told his family he could not survive on the reduced dose. Moreover, he could kill himself after just one week.

One year later, funding has been restored for nearly half of the veterans whose coverage was cut to three grams. In many cases, it was up to 10 grams a day.

Those who have signed onto the effort to launch a class-action lawsuit – which is being funded by Veterans for Healing, an advocacy and support organization in Oromocto, N.B. It wants to ensure nothing similar happens to vets in the future.

“It’s not about money, it’s about doing what’s right,” said Jamie Keating, a Saint John-based veteran who will be the named plaintiff. It is also backed by well-known veteran and cannabis advocate Fabian Henry. “You can’t just cut vets off cold turkey when something works,” Mr. Keating said, adding: “If it was opiates, they wouldn’t be able to just stop.”

Costs of VAC’s medical marijuana had skyrocketed to more than $60-million – making it the most costly item in the department’s drug-benefit program – and the lack of science to support using cannabis as a treatment factored prominently in the decision to scale back.