“Medical cannabis is not necessary, appropriate, or sufficient health care treatment for most medical conditions,” reads a document by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
An Ontario man wants to switch to medical cannabis from prescription opioids — he has been taking cannabis for pain management over the past two decades. But the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will have nothing to do with it and has denied his application.
The man, known as Al, started consuming prescription opioids to manage pain caused by a serious workplace accident that left him disabled and in constant pain that refuses to go away even after eight surgeries.
Though he currently uses a combination of physician-prescribed opioids and cannabis to treat his discomfort, Al wants to make the switch to a cannabis-only regimen of pain management.
“We’re still doing the opioids because you can’t stop one without having something to go back onto,” he told the Bracebridge Examiner. “I told my doctor and he agreed, I would take my opioids at night.”
Al initially decided to try medical cannabis after extensive personal research led to discussions with his general physician and a specialist in North Bay. After receiving a Ministry of Health licence and taking time to experiment, he established his ideal dose of cannabinoids CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and discovered that he was left with a clearer head on cannabis than on the other medications he was prescribed.
After consulting with multiple physicians and making a visit to a Toronto-based pain management clinic, Al received a prescription from a nurse practitioner and applied to the WSIB to make the change — but the application was not approved.
Since Al requires a higher therapeutic dose of THC than the WSIB will cover, he must continue to take opioids, as the cost of prescription cannabis is too high for him to afford without coverage.
It doesn’t help that the WSIB appears dubious of medical cannabis as a legitimate treatment for many illnesses and symptoms.
“Medical cannabis is not necessary, appropriate, or sufficient health care treatment for most medical conditions due to the lack of strong and consistent evidence of therapeutic efficacy, and the known harms of cannabis use,” reads the WSIB-published document Cannabis for Medical Purposes. “However, in limited circumstances, medical cannabis may be necessary, appropriate, and sufficient health care treatment as a result of a work-related injury-disease.”
Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller is now working with Al to contact the Ministry of Labour and advocate for his medical preferences.
Subscribe to the Cannabis Post newsletter.
Written by Emma Spears