Nova Scotia To Fund Marijuana For Welfare Clients


Photo: CHRONIC nº 3

​​Medical marijuana advocates are praising a landmark Nova Scotia court ruling, hoping it will lead to taxpayer-funded cannabis for low-income patients across Canada.

Last week the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ordered the provincial government to pay for the medical marijuana used by Sally Campbell, a chronically ill woman on welfare, reports Richard Foot of The Montreal Gazette.
Some provinces already pay for the marijuana prescribed to patients under workers’ compensation claims. Since 2008, Canada’s federal government has also paid for the marijuana used by a few military veterans receiving disability benefits.
This, however, is the first time a province has covered the cost of doctor-prescribed marijuana for people on governmental assistance, according to a Canada-wide survey by Nova Scotia government officials.
“This is a new and developing area of law,” said Kirk Tousaw, a Vancouver Island lawyer representing people seeking federal medical marijuana licenses. “I’m not aware of any precedent in this area.”
According to Tousaw, the Nova Scotia ruling may not immediately affect the law in other provinces. But “it does represent a court saying that this particular drug deserves to be financially covered in certain circumstances,” Tousaw said. “I think it’s a very positive development.”
“It would be fantastic if this case opened the door in other provinces, if it helped needy patients get affordable access to marijuana,” said Chad Clelland, director of community relations for, a national coalition of doctors, patients, and growers that has spent years finding affordable pot for low-income Canadians.

Less enthusiastic is the Nova Scotia government, which for years fought Halifax resident Campbell’s request for an increase in her assistance, to pay for her marijuana supply.
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter claimed that what worries him about the decision is not having to fork out money for Campbell’s marijuana, but that it may result in the budget-challenged province having to pay for other medications.