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    Insurance to Cover Medicinal Marijuana in Canada – Human Rights Board

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    The Human Rights Board in Nova Scotia, Canada, has ruled that medical marijuana prescribed for chronic pain treatment must be covered by corporate medical insurance plans.

    Gordon Skinner, a former elevator mechanic for ThyssenKrupp Elevator Canada was in a car accident while on duty. While recovering from his injuries he suffered chronic pain that conventional painkillers could not ease. Skinner was successfully prescribed medical marijuana, but when he applied for medical insurance to cover his expenses, he was three times denied. Eventually, Skinner turned to the country's Human Rights Board.

    Skinner received support, as inquiry board chair Benjamin Perryman ruled that the Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Plan contradicted the province's Human Rights Act. Perryman also ruled that the organization must cover all Skinner's medication 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 stated. "The discrimination was non-direct and unintentional."

    According to Perryman's ruling, Skinner's inability to manage pain properly as a result of the denial of coverage resulted in "profoundly negative effects on the complainant and his family."

    Many private and public insurers in Canada have not, until now, recognized the use of marijuana as a medicine. According to Deepak Anand, the executive director of the Canadian National Medical Marijuana Association, this ruling will help more people to get coverage.

    Currently, marijuana possession, consumption, or production is legal only under a license issued by Health Canada. It is believed that cannabis will be legalized for recreational use this year, as well. However, according to Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer, the legal sale of recreational marijuana is unlikely to start before 2018, and the plant will be controlled for a brief time after it is legalized.

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    Tags:
    Human Rights, health insurance, cannabis, ThyssenKrupp, Nova Scotia, Canada
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