Flying with cannabis: What you need to know

Whether a patient yourself, or a family member has their prescription, the issue of travelling with prescribed cannabis is new to everyone at some point.

One of the first things in the process to understanding the laws is to know that these laws only apply domestically within Canada. A patient cannot travel outside of Canada with their medication regardless of what their destination is. Yes, cannabis is legal in many jurisdictions south of our border. No, you may not travel to these locations legally while carrying cannabis. This includes, for instance, a direct flight from Calgary to Denver.

So, what does that mean for you the patient taking a domestic flight with prescribed cannabis? Let’s break it down with the recently changed Transport Canada policies.

  • You do not need to advise anyone prior to your arrival or during security checks -CATSA/CBSA are no longer required to contact police upon notification or discovery of your medication.
  • Carry limits are the same as ACMPR regulations, 30 days supply or 150 grams, whichever is lesser. (I.e. – 90 grams for a 3 gram per day patient) – extracts such as capsules, oils and others are also subject to the carry limits, and should also be stored in original labeled containers.
  • These regulations apply for service flights offered by CAF as they operate under Transport Canada guidelines. (

Now that we, the patients, are all caught up on the recent changes, things are well and good right? Not necessarily.

As with any policy and large organization it takes time to promulgate new information through the ranks. It isn’t the norm, but encounters with airport staff who aren’t aware of changes or even that we are legally allowed to carry our prescription onto a domestic flight can still occur.

What we do when we encounter unknowing airport staff is up to each of us. However, acting like a militant protester, or making a scene probably won’t get you anywhere fast except secondary search bays.

To put it in perspective; if it was our checkpoint or cordon and we weren’t sure on course of action, we would call it in and ask for direction from higher if time permitted. They’re simply people trying to do a job as we are simply people trying to get home to loved ones without undue hassles.

We at Spartan Wellness have flown across this beautiful country with our prescription, before and after these rules, with many veterans and no one has ever been arrested or had anything confiscated as far as we have heard. Relax, provide your documentation, and wait for someone in the know to make the right decision.

As patients who have flown with our medical cannabis, Spartan Wellness strongly suggests always carrying your prescription in your carry-on bag, not your checked luggage. Checked baggage can be inspected by the canine inspection teams, and you can be pulled out of line to explain yourself thereby causing an unnecessary delay.

Education is key in these situations. Know the rules, your rights, and take the time to explain the topics covered here to airport staff and you may just save the next troop a hassle.

Happy travels,

The Spartan Team

The 4 Steps to Take When Applying for a VAC Disability Award

You may hear discussion of your service injury referred to as a pensioned condition, a disability “award”.  Someone may ask you, “Are you applying for an award for your tinnitus?”  The usual troop response would be, “No, I’m applying for hearing aids for my tinnitus”.  Don’t assume the worst, just a different department and different terminology. Always remember, regardless of how it may seem, VAC is there to help you get the services you need and with more knowledge you will be able to negotiate the VAC process in a very positive manner.

From what we have seen so far that seems to be the exception rather than the rule and barring occasional errors, most veteran patients we interact with feel well looked after once the process is complete. Although timelines are a bit long and errors sometimes occur we truly do have some of the best coverage in the country and considerably in the world, to seek a healthier and better quality of life after service for you and your family.   It’s your earned right and worth it to apply.

With most of the process being available online as well as by phone or in person, you, the veteran, have options on how you feel most comfortable approaching this.

Step 1: Your first step is having a diagnosis related to your service.  If you do not have one contact us or Veterans Affairs Canada to assist in finding the appropriate specialist

Step 2: Getting the application form

Most VAC offices are open business hours, closing on government and stat holidays.   You do not need to be a current client of VAC to initiate contact with one of their client service agents, and most offices have a duty case manager of the day if required.   They are able to print off the document you need to get started.

Request by phone

VAC’s phone lines are staffed during business hours, simply ask one of the agents on the phone to mail you an application for disability benefits.

VAC Office Number: 1(866)522-2122

Request online

You can download the fillable form from VAC’s website here.   Fill in your particulars, and print it.


Step 3: Preparing the application

Once you have received the completed medical portion from your doctor you need to establish the connection to your service and attach the items requested here;


Step 4: Submitting your application

There are a variety of ways for submitting your application to VAC. To make it easier for you, we’ve included all the phone numbers, addresses and websites needed for making your submission.


Online via My VAC account:

In person at your local office:

By mail: Veterans Affairs Canada, PO Box 6000, Matane QC G4W 0E4


As always, if you have any questions regarding Veterans Affairs programs or applications contact Spartan Wellness and we would be happy to assist any way we can.


– Andrew Brown, Spartan Wellness Volunteer

Spartan Wellness Announces Donation to Soldier On

“Soldier On Changed My Life.”

Five simple words that we have heard from many veterans. For those that are unfamiliar with the work that Soldier On does, we can personally comment on what an amazing organization they are. In a nutshell, Soldier On provides financial assistance to veterans so they can have access to sports as a form of therapy and ultimately find an activity where we can thrive. The unfortunate reality is that there are many Canadian veterans who are ill, injured and suffering with little to no support.

Thanks to donations and support from Canadians, Soldier On is bringing veterans to a place of acceptance, and on their way to enjoying their new normal.  Over 3,500 serving members and veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces have overcome their physical or mental health illness or injury through sport and other physically challenging activities as a direct result of the services provided by Soldier On.

Jean-Claude (JC) Migneault, a volunteer with Spartan Wellness, is one of the veterans who’ve been able to succeed from Solider On’s services.

“I did the National Golf Camp a few years ago, and that got me back into golf. It gave me a reason to get out of the house and interact with people when I would normally rather not,” said JC.“I had the privilege of going to Scotland with Soldier On, and it was a trip that changed my life. I have been able to not only continue with golf, but I have been able to get [in contact with] friends that were in the same position I was in many years ago, and help them get out of the house and start enjoying life.”

Nine of Spartan Wellness’s founding members give credit to Soldier On for bringing them from a place where they needed the most help to now being able to help others who have made sacrifices for our country.

Spartan Wellness’s co-founder and CEO, Riad Byne, had his life change after being introduced to Solider On. “Soldier On helped me understand my new normal and because of that we are here today giving back to the same organization that saved my life and many others both serving and those who have served.”

It is with a great deal of pleasure that we are personally inviting all to attend the Inaugural Spartan Wellness/Soldier On donation cheque presentation on Parliament Hill at the Canada 150 Rink on Friday December 15th at 5:15 p.m.

Our cheque presentation will be held immediately following the exciting annual Ottawa Senators Alumni vs. Soldier On hockey game (which starts at 4:00 p.m.), and will be attended by contributor & CFL Alumni Michael Collymore, as well as other generous organizations who have made our donation possible.

We here at Spartan Wellness look forward to not only paying it forward with Soldier On by way of our donation, but we look forward to seeing as many of you there to cheer with us as“Great Things Happen Together”.

Thanks for reading.

How to Navigate Your Summary of Assessment (SOA)

A Summary of Assessment (SOA) from Veterans Affairs can be an extremely useful piece of paper to keep handy. Your SOA has several pieces of pertinent information on it that can assist a veteran in many circumstances, especially medical circumstances. Let’s look at what your SOA is, and why it’s a good idea to keep one on file at home.

Your “KNumber”

Each person who puts in a claim for services or entitlements to VAC is automatically issued a file number. A K Number is your file number with a K in front of it. This number is used to keep track of all paperwork, medical and support services accessed, as well as billing purposes with Blue Cross for things like prescriptions and other insurable items. Think of it as your veteran service number.

We shall now and forever and ever – amen – remember our service numbers. While VAC offers veterans the option of using our service numbers when accessing their services, I prefer to use my File or ‘K’ Number. I’m no longer serving, I no longer refer to myself by rank, why would I continue to use my service number? In working with recently released members, a key point I frequently stress is that they need to find ways, no matter how small, to break with their rank and develop a sense of identity separate from their careers. Using your KN instead of your SN when dealing with VAC is a nice, simple way of reminding your brain that you’re no longer serving.

Finding a New Doctor

You’re released, you’ve done your final move, and you’re ready to get on with this retirement thing. Then you need a new doctor. An SOA is a concise list of injuries and diagnosis that is easy for any doctor to read. And let’s not forget that we forget – a lot. Your doctor needs to know as much about your medical history as possible and a single sheet listing both awarded and non-awarded medical issues is a great place to start.

It’s also good to keep track of when you were diagnosed/awarded for a condition, as most, if not all, conditions can be reviewed periodically for reassessment purposes. Your percentage awarded can never go down, but it may go up depending on the circumstances.

Some Service Providers Require It

We at Spartan Wellness pride ourselves in quick and efficient delivery of services. While there is never any charge to any of our patients, many of the prescription providers we connect our patients to require a copy of your SOA on file. Why? So that they can speed up the direct billing process to get you the medication or other service that you need, faster.

Where Do I Get One of These SOAs?

Your SOA is yours, and you can request one any time you’d like. You can drop into any VAC office, anywhere in Canada and request one. That’s right – you don’t have to speak to your case manager, or even be at your ‘home’ office.

You can also request one be mailed to you if you’re not in a hurry. This request can be made by calling 1-866-522-2122 during regular business hours.

Electronic/email copies are not currently available as your SOA contains sensitive information about you and VAC cannot guarantee electronic security.

We hope this information was helpful, and if you have any questions please feel free to send them to

Spartan Wellness Proud Sponsor of Mississippi Thunder Kings (MTK)

Spartan Wellness is thrilled to sponsor the Mississippi Thunder Kings (MTK) Minor Bantam Team for their 2017 season.

The Mississippi Thunder Kings hosts a competitive program for Tier 3 – B level with players from Almonte Pakenham Minor Hockey Association and Carleton Place Minor Hockey Association. The MTK name is a combination of the APMHA Thunder and the CPMHA Kings.

The Spartan Wellness crew looks forward to making it out to see the MTK in action and cheering them on over the course of a busy season.

For a full schedule of tournaments in which the MTK Minor Bantam Team will be competing, click here.


Become a member of Team Canada!/Joignez-vous à l’Équipe Canada!

The Invictus Games Sydney 2018 will bring together more than 500 competitors from 18 nations to compete in the following sports: archery, athletics, golf (to be confirmed), powerlifting, indoor rowing, road cycling, sailing, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis (to be confirmed).

The purpose of the Invictus Games is to harness the power of sport to inspire recovery and support the rehabilitation of the competitors, who in turn inspire countless others with their demonstration of determination and resilience.

Team Canada will be led and managed by Soldier On, in partnership with the True Patriot Love Foundation.  The first step in the nomination and selection process for Team Canada 2018 is for you to complete and submit the nomination form no later than 15 December 2017.

Click here to Apply for Team Canada!

For more information about the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, click here:


Joignez-vous à l’Équipe Canada!

Les Jeux Invictus Sydney 2018 rassembleront plus de 500 compétiteurs de 18 nations pour participer aux sports suivants: tir à l’arc, athlétisme, golf (à confirmer), dynamophilie, aviron intérieur, cyclisme, voile, volleyball assis, basketball en fauteuil roulant, rugby en fauteuil roulant et tennis en fauteuil roulant (à confirmer).

Les Jeux mettent à profit le pouvoir du sport pour inspirer le rétablissement, soutenir la réadaptation, tout en inspirant d’autres par leur courage, leur persévérance et leurs aptitudes athlétiques.

L’Équipe Canada sera dirigée par le programme Sans Limites en collaboration avec la Fondation La Patrie (True Patriot Love). La première étape du processus de nomination est de compléter et soumettre le formulaire au plus tard le 15 décembre 2017.

Cliquez ici pour vous inscrire à l’Équipe Canada:

Pour plus de renseignements à propos des Jeux Invictus Sydney 2018, cliquez ici (anglais seulement) :

Helping the Helpers

Spartan Wellness is pleased to announce its participation in Helping the Helpers, a day-long event taking place on Oct.28 at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. This informative event will focus on coping and dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and feature talks from local professionals, including doctors, paramedics, police,  and physiologists.

Among those speaking at the event is renowned psychiatrist and Spartan Wellness specialist, Dr. Celeste Thirlwell, who will talk about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and medical cannabis as a treatment for PTSD symptoms. Dr. Thirlwell has helped dozens of Canadian Veterans and Spartan Wellness clients, all of whom have experienced positive outcomes as a result of her unique therapeutic approach.

Spartan Wellness will be the only clinic represented at the event. Spartan team members will be on hand to offer information about health and wellness treatments and programs available through Spartan Wellness for the treatment of PTSD

Registration is $20 or $30 including lunch at Morrison Hall. To register, please email,, or phone 902-623-1473 or 902-318-5959.

If you or a loved one suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and would like information on treatment programs available through Spartan Wellness, please call us at 1-877-219-1255, email or complete an Interest Form found here.

10 Things I Wish I Knew Coming Out of the Forces

Transitioning out of the Forces into civilian life can be emotionally and financially challenging for anyone. In order to make that change as smooth as possible, we asked Spartan Wellness co-founder, Riad Byne, to list his top 10 of what he wished he knew coming out of the Forces. In his own words, here is Riad’s top ten.

I wish I knew…

1. What financial entitlements were available to me, as well as the array of other services I could access.

2. To be financially prepared for a gap between receiving my military pay and receiving severance and pension income. The timelines can be much longer then indicated when going through the release process

3. SISSIP is not the final financial support available; it is only a 2- year interim solution designed to be a stop-gap between release and either employment or VAC entitlements. Not all services advertised are easily attainable by all members. Due to the backlog of applications and the administrative requirements, it took a lot of time and patience to complete all forms.

4. My new income was not always adequately taxed at source. Don’t wait till you file your tax return to make up the difference. Ask to have more taxes taken off from your income sources so there are no big surprises.

5. That I would actively have to find new health care providers (doctor, dentist etc) and deal with the fact that I would have to go into all of my physical and mental health history with new people. I found myself going to walk in clinics and it became very difficult getting the help I needed while becoming very frustrated. Take the time to research and find the resources before you get out.

6. After I left, the regimental family, including friends, co-workers and their families, continued with their work. This sometimes meant that I lost touch with individuals and felt a loss of association with my former unit. You lose a sense of purpose and belonging. Find things and hobbies to fill the void, promoting you to get out and exercise your body and mind within your new normal.

7. There are few “fully transferable” trades that equate to good paying jobs on civie street. Despite years of training and experience, expect a pay cut if you’re staying in your field. As good as our pay seemed at the time, there are expenses that occur that you may not be used to, thereby making your new civilian pay seem even less. Plan for this and look to upgrade your education and skill sets. Use the resources to their full advantage.

8. There are many resources available to assist in transition, but you must self-advocate and request those services. Education and/or an experienced 3rd party advocate is key in this area.

9. Adjusting my personal and household spending habits to align with being paid once a month. It was a huge adjustment and can really put things back if not prepared. Be proactive.

10. Include your family in the transition. I tried going it alone and with so much involved it became overwhelming quickly. Having an extra set of eyes and ears is best.

It takes time to find your new normal. Do not be in a rush to get busy. Take the time to find out what you can and can not do and work within that. If you set too lofty expectations for your self it will prove to be difficult and potentially set you back if you cannot meet them. Always try and stay positive and think of positive solutions and, most importantly, remember; you served your country and you deserve the best you… don’t sell yourself short and take the time to heal and find wellness and life balance. A healthy you allows you to help others achieve health as well! 🙂

If you are transitioning out of the Canadian Military and need help accessing your VAC entitlements or require guidance, please email Spartan Wellness at, call us at 1-877-219-1255 or fill out the Registration Form found here