The Veteran Ombudsman has received a complaint about the discontinuation of the reimbursement of medicinal cannabis for veterans. Therefore he wrote a letter to the Dutch Minister of Defense. Say that again? Is medicinal cannabis no longer reimbursed for veterans?

Exactly. Back in 2017, the reimbursement was taken out of the basic insurance. In 2018 it also could no longer come from supplementary insurance. In order to facilitate the transition somewhat for veterans, the possibility of reimbursement after a transition period for that group was discontinued as of 1 January 2020.

Medicinal cannabis prescribed 15 times to veterans

And there you are, a veteran with physical or psychological problems. You will no longer be reimbursed for the only remedy that makes life a little easier. Or that soothes your pain for instance. After all that you have been through in serving your country.

And that is precisely why the veteran wrote the letter to the ombudsman, Reinier van Zutphen. Because the veteran benefits from medicinal weed. And he’s not the only one. In the past five years, eight veterans have made use of the reimbursement from the APB (the veteran counter). They use it for medicinal cannabis. Medicinal cannabis is prescribed to veterans with complex PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The head of Military Mental Healthcare (MGGZ) prescribes the medicine. In total, fifteen veterans visit the cannabis clinic and are prescribed medicinal weed.

What can medicinal cannabis do for veterans?

The ombudsman personally inquired with the Head of Military Mental Health Care. Most of all he prescribes the drug to veterans with sleeping problems. Meanwhile, the veteran from the complaint uses the medicine to soothe the pain. He was injured during a service accident. In the documentary Mile Marker, American veterans also talk about the positive effects of medicinal cannabis on their lives. Over there, a lot of experimentation with medical cannabis is going on too. 

Current research in the Netherlands

The cancellation of the reimbursement is based on American research that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It states that the benefits of cannabis are not scientifically proven. So apparently it is not important for our country Dutch research is still ongoing. Because the effects of the use of medicinal cannabis are being studied. This is happening as we speak at the Universities of Leiden and Utrecht. Because of that, the ombudsman asks the Dutch minister to continue the reimbursement. At least until the results of those investigations are known. Because he thinks that the decision to terminate is insufficiently reasoned. 

That all sounds reasonable in favor of the veterans. However, there is also criticism of the reimbursement of medicinal cannabis to (only) veterans. Cannabis researcher Arno Hazenkamp does acknowledge the positive effect of medicinal cannabis. However, he thinks that the investigations cannot serve as a basis for new legislation. 

Did the letter help?

In conclusion, the letter to the minister has opened the door a little for veterans. Because the Ministry of Defense is now reviewing the decision. So, fingers crossed!