The Manulife Financial insurance company says it will launch the first medical marijuana program in Canada this fall in conjunction with Shoppers Drug Mart.
Manulife says the program will be available as an option for participating group and individual health insurance plans.
Under the partnership, Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists at an Ontario-based patient care centre will help approved customers navigate the different strains of medical marijuana and the different ways to take it.
Manulife customers will then be able to choose treatment that is covered under their Manulife plan and receive ongoing case management.
The insurance company — which was already offering medical cannabis coverage to clients on a selective basis — says more details of the program with Shoppers will become available once the program takes effect.
“Manulife’s medical marijuana program will ensure people have appropriate advice, make informed decisions and receive the support they need to choose the appropriate strain for their condition,” said Donna Carbell, Manulife’s senior vice-president of group benefits.
Manulife is the latest Canadian insurance company to continue an industry shift into the medical marijuana sector.
Sun Life Financial Inc., for example, said in February that it was adding medical marijuana coverage as an option for its group benefits plans. Great-West Life Assurance Co. has said it plans to expand its medical marijuana coverage options in its group plans this year.
There were more than 235,000 registered medical marijuana patients across Canada s of the end of September 2017 — the most recent date for which data is available.