Workers in “Worst Place on Earth” Get MMJ Covered by Health Insurance

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Windsor is Canada’s Detroit. Well, sort of.

Yes, Windsor is directly across the Detroit River from what’s left of downtown Motor City—and, yes, the decline and fall of automobile manufacturing is a major reason why Windsor is, in the words of some cultural tastemakers, “the worst place on earth,” or “Canada’s rectum.”

Funny, but true: According to some of the 200,000 souls who call Windsor home, its proximity to Detroit is Windsor’s main raison d’etre. We’re not a tired punchline, and we’re not a dictionary definition for urban decay, but by gum, we’re close to one! That, my friends, is Windsor.

Windsor is also where, like many other places where the economy stinks and people aren’t happy, people pop lots of opiates. Like everywhere else in the North American Rust Belt, opiate deaths are on the rise in Windsor, where overdoses have increased 190 percent during the recent, ongoing, ghastly crisis.

Windsor isn’t all death, decay and late-night television fodder.

If you have a job working in construction or on road repair with a local labor union, your health insurance will cover your medical marijuana. Make all the comparisons to less savory body parts you want—for working people, there’s free weed in Windsor.

There are about 1,500 members of LiUNA! 625, the Laborers International Union local in the greater Windsor area. The union pays for its workers’ healthcare ,as well as for their family members—about 3,600 people total.

Starting in June, their benefits plan will pay for “pharmagrade medicinal cannabis products,” union leaders announced last week.

Working for a living means sore backs, trick knees—just some of the consequences of being a working person is pain. And chronic pain means prescription opiates, and opiates mean a health crisis with a body count comparable to AIDS at its nadir in the early 1990s.

LiUNA believes covering cannabis will keep its members off the pills. And alive.

“Now that we’ve added this, we’re hoping more doctors… will move towards prescribing the cannabis oil as opposed to the opioids,” said Rob Petroni, business manager at LIUNA, in an interview with CBC. “The most important part of this is to reduce the opioid use and or abuse.”

“Quite honestly, out of 3,600 people, if one person gets off opioids, it’s better than nobody,” he told the CBC.

Current workers, as well as retired laborers, will be able to access cannabis—which is also a smart business move, Petroni noted. A pharmaceutical treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, for example, costs as much as $60,000. About $2,500 worth of weed does the trick just as well, he told Blackburn News.

According to Petroni, LiUNA is the first trade-workers union in Canada to guarantee cannabis coverage to its members.

Canada, remember—and Windsor along with it—will always enjoy a major advantage over the United States as long as marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance. Canada’s federal government says medical marijuana is legal. More than 40 companies have licenses to grow and sell marijuana from Health Canada—which also provides single-payer health insurance.

While medical marijuana coverage is not universal, it may soon be.

Several major employers offer cannabis coverage as a touted employee benefit meant to attract workers, and other workers have successfully sued to have their insurance providers cover marijuana treatments.

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