Pubdate: Fri, 12 Aug 2016
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Page: A3
Copyright: 2016 Times Colonist
Author: Richard Watts
Bookmark: (Lucas, Philippe)


Some Canadian veterans and their supporters, including long-time 
cannabis crusader and former Victoria city councillor Philippe Lucas, 
are petitioning Canada's Parliament for marijuana in pills.

The group says marijuana can help veterans suffering from chronic 
pain and in dealing with the psychological and emotional residue of 
combat tours, generally known as post-traumatic stress disorder.

They point out that Veterans Affairs Canada refuses to pay for 
marijuana extracts or in pills, covering only raw marijuana leaves or 
buds to be smoked.

"It seems arbitrary to cover the cost of one method of ingestion and 
not cover the cost of another," Lucas said.

Lucas recently launched a petition, sponsored by his MP, New Democrat 
Sheila Malcolmson, with the hope of overturning Veteran Affairs' lack 
of support for cannabis in non-smoking forms. The petition requires 
500 signatures to be presented to Parliament. As of Thursday evening, 
it had 239 signatures.

A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Canada said in an emailed statement 
that the agency is reviewing how it reimburses veterans for medical marijuana.

The review will also look at new regulations, now in the works, from 
Health Canada on medical marijuana.

Lucas was founder of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, making 
marijuana available to people with chronic illnesses or conditions. 
He was also a one-term Victoria city councillor from 2008 to 2011. He 
now lives in Nanaimo, where he is a vice-president of Tilray, a 
company making medical marijuana products.

Until last year, Lucas said, the company was supplying ingestible 
marijuana products - such as extracts, drops and pills - to veteran 
patients. It was a surprise when Veterans Affairs stopped 
reimbursement for the products, he said.

"These are popular options for veteran patients," he said.

Veteran Trev Bungay, 39, of Fredericton - who also played a part in 
organizing the petition - said marijuana helped him get his life back on track.

Bungay is co-owner of a company called Trauma Healing Centre, with 
four clinics helping people deal with the ongoing effects of traumas and PTSD.

A former infantryman, Bungay served 19 years in the Canadian Army and 
completed seven tours overseas - including four combat tours in Afghanistan.

By 2012, he found he had anger issues and trouble sleeping. He turned 
to military medical services for help and was prescribed 22 different 
pills per day.

"There were pills to sleep, pills to wake up, pills for your stomach 
because you are taking so many pills," Bungay said. "I was a zombie."

He retired from the army in 2014, but problems persisted. He said 
years of active soldiering also left him with persistent pain in his 
knees and back. The emotional and psychological problems made him 
unwilling to leave his home for weeks. He attempted suicide twice.

Bungay experimented with marijuana, smoking it at first. He found it 
calmed him enough that he started sleeping and was able to leave his 
home and find his way to a psychologist's clinic.

"Within six months, I was sleeping through the night," he said.

Bungay said he progressed to a "holistic" approach using fitness, 
better diet, exercise and counselling. He still uses cannabis in his 
food or in a capsule.

"And today I'm on zero pills, not one," he said, referring to his past regime.

* Details of the petition are at; search for cannabis.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom