While the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board has traditionally handled medical cannabis on a case-by-case basis, it’s new policy on the drug takes effect on March 1, 2019.
The policy, which provides a framework for entitlement to, and approval of, medical cannabis by the WSIB, sets out the following five conditions for entitlement:
- Neuropathic pain;
- Spasticity resulting from a spinal cord injury;
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting;
- Loss of appetite associated with HIV or AIDS; and
- Pain and other symptoms in palliative care.
In addition to these conditions, there are several factors that must be met before the WSIB will consider entitlement to medical cannabis, including: the worker has previously tried conventional treatments for their condition; the worker has received a clinical assessment for medical cannabis treatment; the benefits of medical cannabis treatment outweigh the risks; and the treating health-care professional has authorized medical cannabis for the employee.
The WSIB said it will review the policy within two years and adapt it to any significant changes in the clinical cannabis environment.
The policy may lead to more claimants being approved for medical cannabis under the WSIB, according to an update from Eckler Ltd. “The impact on each employer will depend on its claims experience and rate group, as well as whether it is a Schedule 1 employer — which operates under the WSIB’s collective liability insurance principles — or a Schedule 2 employer — which is individually responsible for the full cost of accident claims filed by its workers.”