Welfare Won’t Cover Medical Marijuana In Nova Scotia After All


Graphic: Releaf

‚ÄčNova Scotians on social assistance will no longer be able to get medical marijuana as a “special need.”

The Canadian province’s Department of Community Services is tightening the rules for its special needs funding, reports CBC News. Community Services spends more than $45 million in special needs funding each year.
Until the new decision, some people on welfare had been able to get the department to pay for medical marijuana, because the rules were vague about what, exactly, qualified as a special need.
Between 20 and 25 people who already received such support — including, in addition to marijuana, things like gym memberships and massage therapy — will continue to get it, according to CBC.

But the new, clearer language means others asking for the same help will be turned down, according to Dan Troke, who runs the program.
“Clearly going forward the position as it was intended to be all along would be any item that is not on the Nova Scotia drug formulary would not be an item that would be covered under special need,” Troke said.
Last year, a woman on income assistance won her court battle forcing the department to buy her medical marijuana. Sally Campbell suffers from a number of ailments and has a Health Canada certificate giving her federal permission to use marijuana to alleviate pain and nausea.
The department had initially denied Campbell’s request that it designate her marijuana as a special need and increase her monthly allowance to cover the cost of it, reports Sherri Borden Colley at the Halifax Chronicle-Herald.
Campbell appealed that decision to a one-person board, which also denied her request. She then went before a Supreme Court judge and won.
In another case earlier this year, an appeal board ordered the department to cover the costs of marijuana-growing equipment for another woman’s medical needs. The woman and her husband have licenses from Health Canada to grow up to 25 plants, but said they could only afford to grow six.
The appeals board ruled the department should help the woman pay for growing equipment rather than buying her marijuana.
“From a perspective of outside the true intent of the special need, these would be the items that we would see as not meeting the true intent,” Troke said.
Under the new rules, which took effect Monday, Community Services will only cover medical items and services covered by the provincial Pharmacare program. The department said this is how other Canadian provinces handle medical marijuana requests.