Canada’s largest pharmacy chain, as well as its largest food distributor, will now be covering part of the cost of medical marijuana for some patients on their employee health insurance plans.
Shoppers Drug Mart, owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd, informed its 45,000 employees by way of an internal memo that medical marijuana will be covered under company health insurance to a maximum of $1,500 per year, for some patients.
As the internal memo stated, medical coverage “will be considered only for prescriptions to treat spasticity and neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis and nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy for cancer patients.” According to company spokesperson Tammy Smitham, “These are the conditions where the most compelling clinical evidence and literature supports the use of medical marijuana in therapy.” Smitham added that financial coverage may become available for other conditions in the future, stating that the retail giant will continue to review the policy.
This incredible news does not just benefit those at Shoppers Drug Mart either. Loblaw Companies Ltd is Canada’s largest food retailer with the Loblaws Supermarket chain, as well as its Weston Foods subsidiary.
The decision will make this the largest private sector company in Canada to offer this benefit to its employees. “To date, coverage of medical marijuana under group insurance plans is extraordinarily rare,” said Manulife spokesperson Anne-Julie Gratton in an interview with the Toronto Star.
Last October, Shoppers Drug Mart applied to be a licensed producer of medical cannabis strictly for the purposes of distributing the medicine in its retail stores. There has been no word on approval of that application from Health Canada, but in the meantime, employees who already have a prescription for certain medical conditions will sleep soundly knowing that their employer has got it covered.
Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett