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OTTAWA — The cost of providing medical marijuana to the country’s injured soldiers under a Veterans Affairs program jumped to more than $4.3 million this fiscal year, an increase of 10 times what was spent last year.

And the number of ex-soldiers eligible for taxpayer-funded, prescribed pot more than quadrupled to 601 patients.

At the beginning of the last budget year there were 116 eligible veterans.

A briefing note prepared for former veterans minister Julian Fantino says, in 2013-14, the government spent $417,000 on medical marijuana for soldiers.

The massive increases may represent a conundrum for Health Canada, which routinely warns against marijuana use, and the ruling Conservatives who’ve ridiculed Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s campaign for overall legalization of marijuana.

In a statement, Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Janice Summerby stood beside the program, saying the government doesn’t endorse or promote the use of marijuana, but it’s there to support eligible veterans who have a prescription.

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