Access to medicinal cannabis shouldn’t be painful to talk about
On October 17th, Canada will be the first, and so far only major world economy to legalize cannabis. This is a significant event with important considerations for employers as they will need to revisit their workplace polices in order to balance their legal duty to accommodate medical cannabis patients, with the need to provide a safe workplace.
As patients continue to learn more about medical cannabis and acceptance grows, demand for increased coverage soon follows. A recent 2018 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey found that 64 per cent of employees with workplace health plans agreed that medical cannabis, when authorized by a physician, should be covered by their health benefit plan. 1
Opioid use and overdose rates have skyrocketed, with a reported 13 per cent of the Canadian population relying on these potentially lifethreatening drugs for pain relief. 2 In 2017, nearly 4,000 Canadians died from opioid overdoses, a 34 per cent increase from 2016 despite there being a 10 per cent decrease in the amount of opioids prescribed that year. 3,4
Medical cannabis, which has been legal in Canada since 2001, has the potential to reverse these tragic statistics.
Canadian leaders are beginning to embrace medical cannabis and what it may provide. “We are proud to be working to find a better, safer way to help workers treat conditions,” said Joseph S. Mancinelli, international vice president & regional manager of Central & Eastern Canada for the International Union of North America (LiUNA) – the largest construction union in Canada with 120,000 active members.
Despite the significant desire for expanded coverage to include medical cannabis in health plans, only a few employers (about 4 per cent) currently offer coverage for medical cannabis, according to the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA). 5 n
We are proud to be working to find a better, safer way to help workers treat conditions.” Joseph S. Mancinelli is international vice president & regional manager of Central & Eastern Canada for LiUNA