After 16 Years Of Medical Marijuana Programs, Still No Pharmacare For Cannabis-Based Medicine

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Canada’s not-so-universal health care After 16 years of medical marijuana programs, still no pharmacare for cannabis-based medicine

In July of 2001, Health Canada established the country’s first regulatory system for legal medical cannabis, formally acknowledging the plant’s efficacy as a medicine. More than a decade and a half later, Canada’s national health care infrastructure has yet to list cannabis and its derivative medicines for the same insurance coverage granted to other medicines and treatments. While insurance administrators drag their heels, Canadian families are struggling to pay medical bills out of pocket.

This lack of coverage is causing one family in North York, ON, to rely on a crowdfunding campaign to pay for their 2-year-old daughter’s anti-seizure CBD treatments. Delilah Krupka was born with cerebral palsy (CP), caused by a single vein having developed too small in her brain before birth, leading to a stroke in utero. For the first year of her life she suffered from repeated seizures and spasms—as often as 50 spasms per hour, every day.

Delilah’s parents and doctors attempted traditionally prescribed treatments, but all of the anti-seizure medications they tried that were covered by Ontario’s pharmacare came with side effects including loss of appetite, which is crucial to any infant, and especially so for an infant in recovery from a prenatal stroke and developmental disorder. As a result of one of her previous prescriptions (a bitter medicine administered by sprinkling on food) she also developed an aversion to food itself, and now has to be fed by feeding tube to ensure she receives enough energy and fibre to survive.

After celebrating Delilah’s first birthday during a month-long stay at the SickKids Hospital in Toronto, her mother Bella met the parent of another child who suffered from CP, and who had found success in treating the condition with CBD oil. Bella consulted with Delilah’s physician, and reached out to Dr. Michael Verbora, medical director at the Cannabinoid Medical Clinic.

A short time after beginning CBD treatments the frequency of Delilah’s seizures and spasms both saw significant reductions, from 50 spasms per hour to just 20 spasms per day on average, as well as secondary benefits as a result of the reduction in seizures.

“Delilah has developed better in the 7 months since starting CBD treatments,” said Mrs. Krupka, “than she had in the rest of her two years.”

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