Article by Mike Hager, The Globe and Mail
Nova Scotia’s human-rights board has ruled that a man suffering from chronic pain must have his marijuana prescription paid for by his employee-insurance plan, with advocates saying the decision opens the door for patients across Canada to push for similar cannabis coverage.
Gordon Skinner, from a community just outside Halifax, had argued that he faced discrimination when he was denied coverage by the Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Plan. He has been using medical cannabis to treat pain from an on-the-job car accident that forced him from work as an elevator mechanic more than six years ago.
In a written decision posted online Thursday, the provincial inquiry-board chair found that Mr. Skinner’s plan could not exclude paying for his cannabis because it required a doctor’s prescription. The ruling states that the insurance plan contravened the province’s Human Rights Act, and must now cover his medical-marijuana expenses “up to and including the full amount of his most recent prescription.”
“Denial of his request for coverage of medical marijuana … amounts to a prima-facie case of discrimination,” the ruling states. “The discrimination was non-direct and unintentional.”
In Canada, only veterans, some first responders and a small number of private citizens get their medical marijuana 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.
Deepak Anand, executive director of the Canadian National Medical Marijuana Association, said the ruling is significant and could see a number of people apply for coverage through their provincial human-rights commissions.