Major Canadian insurance company adds medical marijuana coverage

, Major Canadian insurance company adds medical marijuana coverage

One of the largest insurance companies in the world is including medical cannabis as an option on its Canadian group plans.

Starting next month, Sun Life Financial will allow companies to add medical cannabis to group health plans as optional coverage.

Sun Life’s decision could breathe fresh life into the growth of Canada’s medical cannabis sector, which has seen slowing growth in patient registrants since late 2016 — sitting at roughly 235,000 client registrations as of Sept. 31.

The Toronto-based company provides group health benefits to more than 3 million Canadian employees and their families.

Sun Life is the largest insurer in Canada to cover medical cannabis.

Last year, Manulife started providing medical marijuana benefits to 45,000 employees of Loblaw and Shoppers Drug Mart.

The Manulife plan covers neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis and nausea and vomiting by cancer patients in chemotherapy.

Veterans Affairs Canada has covered the cost of MMJ for medical purposes for about a decade, but it caps veterans to three grams of cannabis per day.

Under Sun Life’s new policy, which goes into effect March 1, companies will be able to choose annual maximums for covered employees and their dependents. The maximums will range from $1,500 Canadian dollars ($1,194) to CA$6,000.

Companies can add MMJ to their corporate health plans for only the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Patients requiring palliative care

Matt Lamers can be reached at

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