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A student at the University of Waterloo, and also the executive director of the group Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana has managed to get his medical marijuana covered by his insurance.
Jonathan Zaid suffers from a condition which causes constant headaches, with concentration and sleep problems. He said that the condition has left him with no quality of life. Zaid dropped out of grade 8 and was home schooled through his high school years.
“When I turned to medical cannabis, there were no options left. The costs were starting to add up significantly."
The group he is executive for is dedicated to protecting and improving the rights of medical marijuana patients. It is also partnered with Aphria, a company which produces and supplies medical cannabis.
Zaid has been sick for 5 years, 5 years before he ever considered medical cannabis. He had tried around 48 different types of prescription drugs, also paired with multiple therapies, all of which are covered by his insurer without any question. All but medical cannabis
The costs were starting to add up significantly and I didn't understand why it shouldn't be covered like every other drug. It was turning around my life. It was affording me the ability to go back to school to work, to do all of these great things."
Zaid has tried to get the medical cannabis insured but at first his case was turned down, because his insurer said that medical cannabis had lacked a drug identification number and isn’t an approved drug in Canada.
Then Zaid spoke to the Student Union (they are who administer the student health plan) and after some lengthily discussions which took around 8 months “they came to the conclusion that they should cover it because it supports my academics and should be treated like a medication."
Health Canada does not endorse medical cannabis and the Canadian Medical Association said that there simply isn’t enough evidence to support its use, so why should the insurance companies pay for its use?
Zaid said that it comes down to the physicians prescribing it, if the doctor weights up the risks and benefits of the medication for the patient it should be allowed. "Most of the patients on it are using it as a last-line therapy," he said. "Most of these people are severely disabled."
When asked how he went about convincing the insurance company to cover medical cannabis. Zaid said that patients need to make it very clear that the medical cannabis can be more beneficial to them than opiates are.
He’s working with licensed producers to expand access to patients who are often too ill to lobby themselves.
When asked where he thought he wouldn’t be without the access to medical cannabis he said "I'd probably be back where I was sitting at home and doing nothing," said Zaid. "An exciting activity before was going outside to a grocery store, that's the most I could do in a day. And now I can go to school and do all kinds of stuff."
Has anyone else managed to get their insurance to cover medical cannabis? If so we would love to hear from you, drop us a message!