Medical Marijuana Social Assistance Decision Worries N.S. Premier

April 2, 2010 – Nova Scotia’s premier fears that a court ruling ordering the province to pay for the medical marijuana of a woman on income assistance may set a costly precedent.

Darrell Dexter said officials are studying the decision because it could mean that the province has to cover the cost of other drugs that aren’t currently on its list.

“An order to cover one may extend to other drugs as well,” Dexter said Thursday. “The potential for the province to become liable for all manners of therapies, treatments outside of what coverage is normally provided is potentially there in this decision.”

Dexter said the province must be protected from having to pay big bills as a result of the court decision, but he has no objections regarding the specific case.

“I’m concerned with the public policy question of how we fund the drugs that we have,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ordered the Department of Community Services to pay the pot bill for Sally Campbell, a Haligonian with fibromyalgia and chronic hepatitis C.

Campbell, who is on income assistance, has Health Canada’s blessing to smoke pot to deal with her symptoms. She asked Community Services for an increase in her allowance to pay for the marijuana, but was turned down.

Campbell’s doctor told the department’s assistance appeal board it was essential for her health, and was refused again. The board said it didn’t believe the benefits of medical marijuana have been scientifically proven.

But the court ruled that whether the benefits have been proven is not for Community Services to decide.

Dexter said he’s not aware of any province that covers the cost of medical marijuana, nor did he know how much he would cost to add it to the list.

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