Effective March 1, 2019, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Policy 17-01-10 Cannabis for Medical Purposes (Policy) will take effect.
WSIB did not have any specific policy addressing cannabis prior to the release of 17-01-10, allowing for the use and cost of medical cannabis on a case-by-case basis under Section 33 of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA). WSIA provides that a worker who sustains an injury is entitled to such health care as may be necessary, appropriate and sufficient as a result of the injury.
Under the new Policy, a worker must have one of five conditions outlined to have an entitlement to medical cannabis. Further, the condition must be a work-related injury or illness. The five conditions are permitted in light of formal scientific research, which WSIB has indicated will expand as more study is accepted. The five work-related conditions set out in the Policy are:
- neuropathic pain
- pain and other symptoms in palliative care
- spasticity resulting from a spinal cord injury
- chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite associated with HIV or AIDS
- the person must first exhaust appropriate conventional treatments for the work-related condition
- the treating health care professional must complete a clinical assessment of the person, which is similar to the WSIB’s approach to other narcotics, such as opioids
- the worker must have a valid medical document, or a written order, and must comply with the dosing and route of administration criteria in the Policy
- the potential therapeutic benefits must outweigh the risk of harm to the worker.
- the route of administration must not involve smoking
- the daily quantity of dried medical cannabis must not exceed 3 grams per day
- the medical cannabis should be CBD-rich with minimal THC
- the THC percentage of the medical cannabis must not exceed 9 percent
- the milligrams (mg) of THC per day should be no more than 30 mg, but in no case shall exceed 75 mg
Medical cannabis must be obtained from a registered cannabis dispensary in the Province of Ontario with whom the worker is registered as a client or from a hospital.
The procurement must be from medical sources and not recreational cannabis retailers. If entitlement to medical cannabis is allowed, the WSIB will pay for the reasonable costs of medical cannabis and, hardware (vaporizer).
The WSIB will closely monitor and review entitlement, including no later than three months after initial eligibility for medical cannabis is allowed. Additional reviews will occur within three months of a person’s dosage changes. Outside of these situations, regular reviews will be conducted no later than six months after the last entitlement review.
The Policy provides a clear and detailed framework for the administration by WSIB adjudicators and how the WSIB will manage medical cannabis in approved workplace-related injury and illness situations.