There are plenty of reasons to celebrate cannabis legalization in Canada – it’s expected to improve public health and safety outcomes around cannabis, to eliminate unnecessary and often racialized criminal charges, and to divert funds from the black market and into a thriving legal economy. Best of all, accessing consistent and lab-tested cannabis will be easier than ever before.
But if all these benefits have you thinking it’s time to give up your medical cannabis prescription and start buying your meds at the neighbourhood cannabis retail store, you may want to reconsider.
There are still plenty of good reasons to hold onto that prescription. Here are four of our favourites:
The recreational market is plagued by supply shortages. But many licensed producers (LPs) have declared a commitment to protecting their medical supply. In addition, some LPs make it a policy to hold back a certain amount of their supply for seniors, children with epilepsy and other groups, so they can ensure medicine is always available for those who need it most.
Much like alcohol now, rules around recreational possession and consumption are based on internal HR policies, and vary from workplace to workplace. While some companies do allow drinking on-site – typically for special occasions – it’s not standard to bring booze to your workstation, and equally doubtful that desk bongs will be tolerated, either.
But your medical cannabis consumption comes with certain rights. No, you can’t spark a therapeutic joint wherever you’d like, but unless you are impaired and unable to perform your required tasks, your employer must accommodate your prescription cannabis use. Consult a lawyer for the fine print, but if you’re not costing your company extra time, money or risk, you can likely possess and consume your medical cannabis at work.
Depending on the volume of your prescription, the Cannabis Act allows you to carry up to 150 grams of prescription cannabis in public, compared with the 30 grams of permitted recreational cannabis.
Potential insurance coverage
A growing number of health insurance companies cover medical cannabis, including Markers Insurance, SunLife, Manulife and Green Shield Canada. Canadian veterans are also eligible for coverage. Coverage is typically limited, but these plans are expected to expand as researchers learn more about medical cannabis’s specific applications.
One thing that’s not likely to change? The number of insurers who currently compensate recreational cannabis expenses (zero).
The times are a-changin’, and it’s exciting to consider how much social knowledge around cannabis is growing – just as its stigmas shrink. But still, there’s a time and a place for everything. We might ask a friend or a budtender to recommend the best strains for a party or concert, but a cannabis-savvy doctor or nurse is still the best source of advice when you need cannabis to treat a specific condition. You wouldn’t go to the liquor store for help with your arthritis or IBS, and you can’t expect cannabis retail employees to be medically trained, either.