WSIB’s New Policy on Medical Cannabis

Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has recently issued a policy on medical cannabis: Operational Policy Manual #17-01-10, Cannabis for Medical Purposes.[1] The purpose of the policy is to establish guidelines that govern entitlement to, review of, and payment for medical cannabis. The policy applies to all medical cannabis and vapourizor purchases made on or after March 1, 2019, for all accident dates.

Under the policy, a number of conditions must be satisfied before a worker’s entitlement to medical cannabis will be allowed:

  1. The worker must have a “designated condition” that is clinically associated with a work-related injury/disease or its treatment.
  2. The worker’s treating health professional must authorize medical cannabis to treat the designated condition.
  3. Except in cases of palliative care, the worker must exhaust “appropriate conventional treatments” for the designated condition.
  4. The worker must undergo an appropriate clinical assessment and, to support ongoing entitlement, must undergo subsequent reassessments.
  5. The benefits of medical cannabis for the worker must outweigh the risks.
  6. The quality, quantity and route of administration authorized for the worker must be appropriate.
  7. The worker must have a valid medical document or a written order for medical cannabis.

The WSIB will review the worker’s entitlement to medical cannabis within fixed timeframes to ensure medical cannabis continues to be a necessary, appropriate and sufficient treatment for the worker’s condition.

While the WSIB has previously covered the cost of medical cannabis in certain circumstances, it did so without the benefit of a policy specifically addressing medical cannabis. The new policy provides some much-needed clarity and could not have come at a better time.

We will discuss these and related issues in our upcoming webinar, “Accommodation and Insurance in the Age of Addiction: Legal Developments and Best Practices for Employers” (register here). Stay tuned.