A Saskatchewan human right complaint has been filed over the lack of coverage for medical cannabis by Social Services.
A brutal assault several years ago left Terance Grady with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. Flashbacks of the attack make it hard for him to fall asleep.
The only thing that helps is marijuana.
“It helps with my anxiety and it helps with my nightmares so I’m not waking up screaming in my sleep,” Grady said from his Saskatoon home.
Grady is unable to work because of his mental health, which means he doesn’t have insurance. His provincial social services supplementary health program doesn’t cover medicinal cannabis and that’s why he’s filed a discrimination complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.
“They’ll pay for someone’s insulin and methadone … but they won’t cover medicinal marijuana. It’s discriminatory.”
According to University of Saskatchewan law professor Ken Norman, Grady’s complaint is valid.
“Yes, it sure is. He has a prescription. The simple point is that a prescription is a prescription is a prescription,” Norman explained from his campus office.
The law professor referred to a recent case that was just settled in Nova Scotia where courts found it discriminatory for an insurer to not cover medicinal marijuana on the basis Health Canada hasn’t assigned a Drug Identification Number (DIN).
“Soon enough everyone involved, employers, insurers and social services will come to realize a prescription for medicine is a prescription for medicine. The kind of medicine isn’t a matter they can draw the line on,” he added.
A statement from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health said they are not responsible for making the decision because Health Canada creates the national framework.
“Marijuana for medical use is not covered under the Saskatchewan formulary or other provincial/territorial drug plan formularies.”
“Unlike the drug products listed in the Saskatchewan formulary, marijuana for medical use is not an approved therapeutic product, as it has not been assessed by Health Canada for safety, efficacy and quality as required under the Food and Drugs Act and regulations.”
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission said it can’t confirm if Grady filed a complaint or if it will proceed with action.