Currently the Ontario government is aligned with the Federal government regarding their views on medicinal cannabis. It is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a prescribed medication and therefore does not get coverage on most insurance plans, including those that the provincial government subsidizes.
The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) often provides funding for its members to access their medications. However, it does not recognize medicinal cannabis as an approved medication and does not provide funding for acquiring it. This leaves many in dire straits, either trying to get medicinal cannabis and not having enough money for other necessities in life, or going back to the opiates covered by the provincial government programs. Ontario’s Workplace and Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) views medicinal cannabis in much the same way as ODSP, although they have been quoted as evaluating coverage “on a case-by-case basis”. Many injured workers are denied funding to assist in procuring medicinal cannabis that does more for them than the prescribed opiates do.
This is not only dangerous to patients, but it’s also an inefficiency on government systems. By comparison, medicinal cannabis costs are much lower than those of prescription opiates. Denying the medicinal cannabis prescription and insisting on the more expensive opiate prescription drives up costs for these government funded programs, spending more money than what is needed and taking funds out of other government programs to cover the costs. With the increased risk of addiction when using opiates also comes the increased number of incidents that will land a patient in the ER on possible overdoses, seeking out more medication than what is needed to feed a habit, and more injuries/illnesses related to drug toxicity.
But the most important issue in all of this deals with the patient’s quality of life. Many report that the use of medicinal cannabis, in the right strain for their needs, brings them more relief, which can improve mood, raise motivation and get more patients setting and meeting personal goals in their lives. A positive attitude and outlook on life has been shown to manifest in improved physical symptoms as well as mental and emotional symptoms.
Our own ambassador, Dr. Mainville, has been known to promote this very concept in recent news articles, stating, “Cannabis is so helpful for so many patients, one of the principles I work on is ‘if what you’re doing isn’t working, you should do something else.” Regarding the use of opiates over medicinal cannabis, Dr. Mainville states “Opiates are killing people right, left and centre, and I think that counts as not working.”
Do you have a story you want to share about your experience with how medicinal cannabis has let you live life your way? Do you want to share your experiences with others that may be looking for support to make the right choice for them? Send us your story and be an advocate with us for a life lived your way!
Burgess, Susan. Disability benefit recipients denied medical marijuana coverage. CBC News Online. Published July 17, 2018. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/odsp-disability-cannabis-province-cover-1.4745738
Lancaster, John & Kamlani, Tarannum. Ontario injured workers shut out of medical pot coverage — told to take opioids instead. CBC News Online. Published July 12, 2018. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-injured-workers-shut-out-of-medical-pot-coverage-told-to-take-opioids-instead-1.4742854