Many users prefer to vape instead of smoke since it is believed to be less harmful to the respiratory system, but still a quick and effective treatment against some PTSD symptoms
Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is mulling putting disposable cannabis vape pens on the list of drugs and devices that qualify for a reimbursement program.
The department has categorized vaporizers as medical devices for about five years. Veterans, as well as retired RCMP officers, may be reimbursed up to $300 for their purchase of a vape to be used with doctor-prescribed medical cannabis.
Since then, VAC has footed the bill for almost 7,000 of the devices, most of which were dry herb vapes. These are reusable devices that are filled with dried cannabis flower, although some devices come with attachments that allow them to be used for both dry herbs and concentrates.
The program has spent more than $2 million reimbursing veterans for their reusable vapes, but VAC is currently contemplating the expansion of the reimbursement program to include vape pens, some of which are disposable, and others that are reusable, but require refill cartridges, that allow users to consume cannabis concentrates smoke-free.
Many users prefer to vape rather than smoke as it is believed to be less harmful to the respiratory system, but still a quick and effective treatment against some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Vaping also produces less lasting odour than smoking and allows users to consume the drug less conspicuously than smoking a joint, pipe or bong.
The popularity among vets and ex-officers is made evident by the increase in the program’s cost: $155,000 for 2015-2016 versus $616,000 in 2018-2019.
But some critics say the move would be irresponsible in light of the recent pulmonary illnesses and deaths in the U.S. caused by illicit vape products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported it believes the culprit in those illnesses to be additive ingredient vitamin E acetate, which is banned in Canadian cannabis products.
The VAC program might also be an effective means of harm reduction, as licensed cannabis products and additive ingredients in Canada are strictly regulated, meaning fewer vets may resort to purchasing products from the illicit market, where most of the tainted vapes originated.
Written by Emma Spears