The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is now offering its employees $3,000 to spend on medical marijuana per year.

Around 400 employees, their spouses and dependants must get a doctor’s prescription and obtain the cannabis from legally authorized vendors, but they’ll face no limitations when it comes to what medical conditions are eligible for the coverage.

“It’s not up to us to decide what illnesses should be covered,” says Ilana Goodman, administrator of employee relations at OPSEU. “We wanted to treat it like any other medication.”

Read: Tips for employers to prepare for legalization of recreational marijuana

The union’s management was prompted to introduce the benefit after seeing research around the efficacy of medical marijuana and hearing interest from employees, says Warren Thomas, president of OPSEU.

“I’ve had staff come up to me and say thank you,” Thomas adds, noting that some employees have said they’ve been on the drug for years and have expressed appreciation at having some of their expenses reimbursed by their employer.

Read: Six practical considerations for medical marijuana coverage in ASO plans

Thomas notes it was fairly easy to obtain coverage for the drug because the union runs its own benefits plan.

Employees won’t be able to receive immediate reimbursement for cannabis with a drug card but can submit their claims to the benefits administrator and receive reimbursement after they’ve been processed, he says.

The union is also aiming to get the same coverage for 130,000 OPSEU members who currently don’t receive the benefit. “We intend to try and negotiate it in our collective agreements. I think it’s coming,” says Thomas.

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Kelly Mandryk:

How does this make sense? People with MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, rare cancer, amputated limbs, hearing loss, Crohn’s disease all need to provide paperwork proving their condition requires the medication/equipment they’re being supplied. Yet, cannabis, which has an 18-page listing of conditions it may help — but haven’t been scientifically proven — gets a blank cheque?

I’m not arguing that cannabis isn’t an effective treatment for some, specific conditions. But it’s worrying that to see our benefits plans move ever more toward appeasing the wants of the many and all but abandoning the catastrophic needs of the few.

Monday, June 19 at 12:33 pm | Reply

Makes perfect sense to me:

Cannabis helps with addictions, pain, and cronic pshychological human warfare. The use of Cannabis in oil form known as RSO can aid the body to unlock it’s healing power and even cancers do not stand a chance. But it comes with a big catch…higher amounts of THC can cause paranoid thoughts and even pshycosis if not used correctly through research and self awareness.
It has never killed until some boundry pusher has changed it from it’s original form. Even then it’s more likely to overdose but still won’t kill.
Alcohol and nicoteen can addict you, give you cancers and ulsers and murder a person in larger quantities and prolonged use…but you ask a doctor about you being hooked on Cannabis and they either smile or laugh at you.
Cannabis is safer than anything currently offered out there. DIN numbered meds included. I took Ridolin and 7 different Antidepressants for over ten years. I felt pissed off and anxiouse and the suicidal thoughts from severe depression were daily.
Two years later on Cannabis oil and dried my psychiatrist says; see your nurse regular, I’m here if you need a script or paperwork but relax and garden. Your nurse will inform me. *There was a time just two years ago on “Cymbalta” he would not let me go past 3 weeks without an appointment.
RESCHEDULE CANNABIS AND PUT A WARNING ON IT NOT TO DRIVE AND USE MACHINERY! Don’t make this a new form of Prohibition with jail time. That’s insanity.

Tuesday, June 20 at 10:22 am

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