Am I Entitled to Medical Marijuana After a Car Accident?
In response to Canada’s progressive legislation for the legalization and regulation of cannabis use, medical marijuana is gaining recognition as a legitimate treatment option for individuals injured in car accidents. Medical marijuana is currently regulated by Health Canada under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). However, the introduction of the ACMPR made it difficult for patients to find an affordable licensed marijuana producer.
The Cannabis Act came into force on October 17, 2018. Since that date, new regulations have replaced the ACMPR to improve patient access to medical marijuana. Patients authorized by their health care provider can access cannabis for medical purposes by purchasing directly from a federally licensed seller, registering with Health Canada to produce a limited amount of medical cannabis, or designate someone to produce medical cannabis. The new regulations also allow patients with a prescription for medical marijuana to buy cannabis at a provincial or territorial authorized retail outlet and online sales platforms.
Even though the medical and recreational use of marijuana is legal in Canada, insurance companies may be reluctant to cover the costs of medical marijuana after a car accident. If a qualified, regulated health care professional is recommending treatment with medical cannabis for your car accident injuries, there are requirements to consider in order to receive coverage under the Accident Benefits section of your auto insurance policy.
Conditions that Medical Marijuana Can Treat
Section B of Nova Scotia’s standard form auto policy, commonly referred to as Accident Benefits or No-Fault Benefits, provides up to $50,000 in medical expense coverage, regardless of who is at fault for the car accident. If you currently have an open claim with your auto insurer based on injuries from a car accident, you may be entitled to coverage for cannabis as a medical treatment under Section B of your auto insurance policy.
Severe car accident injuries involving brain trauma, damage to the spine, nerve damage, or other debilitating conditions can have long-term effects on a person’s health and well-being, impacting the ability to earn income and perform everyday tasks.
While the effectiveness of cannabis as a pain treatment remains controversial, motor vehicle accident patients have experienced help with symptom and condition relief for a number of different injuries from the car accident and psychological struggles, including:
- Wounds and skin abrasions
- Head injuries (causing headaches or nausea)
- Joint pain
- Muscle spasms
- Chronic pain
When claiming car accident benefits for cannabis use as a medical treatment, you need to consider future medical costs. If someone else is responsible for causing the collision, you deserve compensation that will cover the full course of medical treatment that you will need to achieve maximum recovery from your injuries. To determine the value of medical expenses and future treatment, you need an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan of all medical care you are likely to need, an expert witness that can testify what your future medical needs will be, and an experienced personal injury lawyer to analyze the financial data to negotiate compensation with insurance companies or the courts on your behalf.
Do Accident Victims Get Medical Marijuana Prescriptions?
Past and future medical expenses in personal injury claims must be deemed ‘reasonably necessary’ to treat the injury. This means proving that past medical expenses were necessary to treat the injury, in addition to a reasonable probability that the treatment will be necessary for the future. When seeking coverage for medical marijuana, the person making a claim is required to demonstrate that it is a medically justified treatment prescribed by an authorized physician (medical doctor) or nurse practitioner recognized under the ACMPR.
The physician must be a member in good standing with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and must hold a valid license from the licensing authority in the province/territory they work in and hold a valid narcotics class 1 license. Nurse practitioners are newly authorized to sign the ACMPR prescription by Health Canada under the ACMPR. Prescriptions for marijuana must comply with the requirements set out under these regulations.
How to Get Medical Cannabis After a Motor Vehicle Accident
When submitting a claim for medical marijuana with your auto insurance provider, it is necessary to have the required license from Health Canada to access cannabis for medical purposes. As claims for medical marijuana after car accidents increase, insurance companies frequently request documents to support these expenses. Insurers may request a copy of your Health Canada license and purchase receipts to confirm that you are getting medical cannabis from authorized sources. Often, insurance providers will also require a copy of the physician referral or records related to the recommendation of medical cannabis.
As the legitimacy of the medical use of cannabis grows, insurance companies may dispute the claim for coverage and argue that marijuana is not an approved or recognized treatment for the car accident victim’s condition. To improve your chances of recovering compensation for medical cannabis as a treatment for your injuries, you must complete the application process in accordance with the ACMPR and Health Canada regulations.
Step 1: Consult With Your Family Doctor
Consulting with a physician who is familiar with your medical history will be the most efficient way to determine if cannabis is the best treatment for your injuries. Some doctors still do not recognize cannabis as a legitimate medical treatment. If you experience resistance from your physician, you can utilize other resources or speak with a personal injury lawyer to help facilitate an introduction to a physician with expertise in this area.
Step 2: Get The Necessary Medical Documentation
Your health care practitioner must fill out a registration application form provided by Health Canada to indicate their support for your use of cannabis for medical purposes. The form will contain the following information:
- Your full name
- Your date of birth
- The address where you consulted with your practitioner
- The daily quantity of cannabis you’re authorized to use (expressed in grams) and the period of use
Your doctor will also provide their name, administrative information, license number, and signature.
Step 3: Register as a Patient With a Licensed Producer
For individuals registering with Health Canada license holders to only possess and not produce cannabis, the application form can be sent directly to the licensed producer. You may need to register with Health Canada in order to lawfully possess cannabis in public above the 30 grams limit allowed for non-medical purposes, depending on the amount authorized by your health care practitioner.
Suppose you are registering to produce cannabis for your own medical purposes or designate someone to produce it for you. In that case, all parties must meet the requirements of the Cannabis Regulations and provide the necessary documents to Health Canada.
There are improvements for patients accessing cannabis for medical purposes from federally licensed sellers under the new regulations.
These improvements include:
- The ability to request the transfer of their medical documents to a different federally licensed seller.
- The registration document’s effective date will be the day it is issued, rather than the day the health care provider signed the medical document.
- Removal of the 30-day limitation period for buying cannabis from a federally licensed seller to ensure no break in a patient’s supply.
- A broader range of permitted products (dried flower, extracts, topicals, and edibles).
- Access to an increasing number of licensed producers and sellers. Health Canada has licensed more producers in the last year than in the four previous years combined.
Resources for Getting Medical Marijuana for Car Accident Injuries
As mentioned above, the first step in getting medical cannabis after an accident is to book an appointment with your family doctor. If this route is unsuccessful, you may want to consult with a personal injury lawyer.
A personal injury lawyer is an excellent resource for car accident victims who need help understanding their legal rights and options or to dispute the denial of a claim to provide coverage for this form of treatment. Alternatively, there are some online resources to help patients get access to medical cannabis treatment.
Even though your insurance company has a duty to act in your best interests, they are trained in getting you the lowest compensation possible. Getting a personal injury lawyer to review your claim will help ensure that you are treated fairly by your insurance provider and recover the medical coverage you are legally entitled to.
Our experienced car accident lawyers at Valent Legal are prepared to manage the claims process while you focus on recovering from your injuries. We will negotiate on your behalf and represent your claim in court to get the maximum compensation for your losses.
Call or text (902) 708-5438 for a free car accident case review today.