Changing Perceptions of Marijuana

The stigma around marijuana has changed a great deal over the past decade. In the most recent national election the issue of legalizing marijuana seemed to be popular among Canadians. It is a subject that perceptions have changed greatly on over the past decade. Public opinion of marijuana has not changed over-night, it has happened through small incremental steps that fight against the criminal stigma associated with the drug. A recent human rights decision in Nova Scotia may be the next step in helping to change the way marijuana is perceived all-across Canada.


A human rights board has determined that a Nova Scotia mans prescribed medical marijuana should be covered by his insurance plan. The man suffers from chronic pain, resulting from an on the job motor vehicle accident. The man said that it was discriminatory for his insurance not to cover his medicinal marijuana prescription, so as result he brought his claim to the human rights board.

In the decision it was determined that the prescribed marijuana was medically necessary for the man. The Inquiry Board chair had this to say about the decision: “Since the medical marijuana in this case was prescribed pain management, it seems there is prima facie support for its medical necessity, owing to the fact that conventional prescription pain management drugs are normally eligible for coverage.”

Basically this decision is recognizing the medicinal benefits of marijuana. This may seem like a simple notion but the stigma attached to marijuana is real and pervasive in the minds of many Canadians. For years it was a controversial drug that was criminalized. As the stigma around marijuana changes there are many wrinkles that will need to be ironed out. For instance, how to test people who are operating vehicles under the influence of marijuana? How are employers to treat employees who have a medicinal marijuana prescription and wish to consume marijuana during work hours to deal with pain? These questions, along with many others, will need to be answered as this trend continues.

This human rights decision in Nova Scotia may have huge implications for insurance companies across Canada.