Military veterans suffering mental health conditions are being denied potentially life-saving medicinal cannabis by blinkered practitioners and conservative decision-makers at the Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA), it has been claimed.

So acute is the issue of accessing legal cannabis, and of receiving subsidies from the DVA, that many ex-service personnel with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are forced to source cannabis from the black market to ease their suffering.

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It is feared the inability to access medication is putting further strain on already distressed veterans, some of whom are fed a cocktail of opioids and antipsychotic drugs that are “turning them into zombies”.

At the centre of the controversy is a refusal of the DVA to subsidise medicinal cannabis treatment for PTSD, with officials believing there is simply not the clinical data to warrant financial assistance.

Yet veteran advocates insist there is ample real world evidence to demonstrate the benefits that cannabis can provide.

Campaigners looking to build awareness of the issue are hoping a proposed Royal Commission into veteran suicides will provide a forum to highlight what they regard as the inadequacies of PTSD treatment.

Suicides among members of Australia’s defence forces has long been of grave concern, with official data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) showing 465 serving and former-ADF personnel took their own lives between 2001 and 2018. A further 13 have died this year.

Although yet to formally commit to a Royal Commission, the Morrison Government last month dropped its opposition to the move, bringing the prospect of a powerful enquiry an important step closer for veterans and their families.    

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...