If there’s anything consistent about medical marijuana policy, it’s change. Early in July of this year the Supreme Court of Canada decided to switch things up by lifting the restriction in Health Canada rules that only allowed medical patients to smoke dried bud. Cannabis patients are rejoicing and things could promise to get even better.
Many experts believe that changes in legislation that allow patients to medicate with concentrates, oils, and edibles is just the push needed to lure health insurance companies to begin infiltrating into the world of medical marijuana. They are after all, in the business of making money and marijuana has the potential to bring in a lot more of it.
Why are insurance companies sitting poised to support patients now when medical marijuana has been legal in Canada for years? With new changes in policy, marijuana oils will soon be able to be sold in gel caps similar to what fish oils and other vitamins and medicines come in. This allows for more accurate medicinal dosages, something that doctors are more likely to embrace rather than simply a plant that is smoked.
What this does is take marijuana away from the typical stereotypes that have been placed upon it, making it appear more appropriate for medicinal use.
So when will insurance companies lock into this multi-million dollar business? It all depends on Health Canada. These new “forms” of marijuana (the oils and concentrates) must be assigned a drug identification number, something known as a DIN. Currently they don’t hold one and will have to go through the entire Health Canada approval procedure just like any new drug offered to the public. When they do however, is when patients with insurance are likely to see some new changes to their policies.
Wendy Hope, spokeswoman for Canadian Life and Health Insurance Inc. says, “If it was issued a DIN by Health Canada, it’s quite likely that the insurance companies would cover it.” Why hasn’t Health Canada jumped on things and gotten a DIN issued for these new forms of medical marijuana? It all comes down to research, and at this point weed just doesn’t have the standard 10-year, double-blind research studies that big pharmaceutical companies like to see.
Insurance companies though, are in the business of making money and cannabis comes with quite a bit of financial incentive. You can bet that we’ll soon see a big driving force behind the need to get DIN numbers on new medical marijuana products, as it is something that will allow these big drug companies to make more money. It will also save insured patients money on their medicine, which is something that many medical patients desperately need.
We believe that all Canadians should have safe access to medical cannabis and that those that carry health insurance should not be restricted on what medicines they can and can’t receive through their policies. We’re closely watching to see what actions Health Canada will take next and will keep you informed on how these changes will directly affect those covered by insurance and what these changes will mean for patients. Until then simply sit comfortable in the fact that we are truly making huge strides in this ever-changing industry. As they say, the best is yet to come.