Article by Mike Hager, The Globe and Mail
One of Canada’s largest medical-cannabis producers says it will fund a Nova Scotia man’s ongoing legal fight to have his marijuana prescription paid for by his employee-insurance plan – the latest move in a nationwide push by industry, patients and their advocates for more widespread cannabis coverage.
Aurora Cannabis Inc., a publicly traded grower based in Alberta, announced this week that it will bankroll elevator mechanic Gordon Skinner’s coming defence this fall in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
Aurora executive vice-president Cam Battley said the original ruling, by Nova Scotia’s human-rights board last year that found Mr. Skinner’s medicine should be covered, should extend to other patients with similar plans.
“Patients have access to insurance reimbursement for a very broad range of prescription medicines,” Mr. Battley said. “Patients can get reimbursement through their insurance programs for opioids – and you know that we have an opioid crisis in this country.
“When medical cannabis can provide an alternative and, in some cases, a safer alternative, it does make sense that it be treated the same way as other prescription products.”
In Canada, only veterans, some first responders and a small number of private citizens get their medical cannabis covered by health-insurance providers. That’s because Health Canada has not approved marijuana as a medicine, so insurers are less inclined to offer coverage.
John Conroy, an Abbotsford-based lawyer who was involved in a case that forced Health Canada to rewrite its medical-marijuana rules last year, said, if it stands, the Nova Scotia ruling could set a precedent for patients seeking coverage in other provinces with similar human-rights laws.