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Canadian Public Employees Union Adds MMJ Benefit

The Ontario Public Services Employees Union is now offering registered medical cannabis patients $3,000 per year to cover the cost of their medicine, Benefits Canada reports. Employees must obtain their cannabis from authorized vendors, but the plan does not limit what conditions are eligible for coverage.

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

Currently around 400 employees, and their spouses and children, are covered but the union is seeking the same coverage for its 130,000 members who don’t presently receive the benefit. Warren Thomas, president of OPSEU, indicated the union would attempt to include the coverage in their future collective agreements.

Thomas said the change was prompted by employees already enrolled in the medical cannabis program and after the union’s management saw research on the benefits and effectiveness of medical cannabis products.

“I’ve had staff come up to me and say thank you,” Thomas said.

Employees will not be able to receive immediate reimbursement with a prescription drug card, but will submit their claims to their benefit administrator and will be reimbursed.

Last month, the Labourer’s International Union of North America, based in Windsor, Ontario, announced it would begin offering medical cannabis insurance coverage, in part, to combat the use of opioid-based pharmaceuticals by its members.

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