The Canada Revenue Agency allows for cannabis purchased under prescription to be claimed as a “medical expense” deduction.
By Jane Switzer • Mar 19, 2019
Green bud, grey area: Medical cannabis consumers buy products directly from licensed producers, but they must pay for it out of pocket – sometimes to the tune of hundreds of dollars a month.
Medical cannabis generally isn’t covered by third-party health insurance plans because it doesn’t have a drug identification number (DIN), a regulatory stamp of approval issued by Health Canada. Sun Life became the country’s first major insurance company to offer optional coverage for medical cannabis in 2018, while Manulife also launched optional coverage for participating individual and group plans in partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart. A handful of employers may offer some type of coverage through their employee group benefit plans, but for many consumers, the only opportunity for financial relief comes through the taxman.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) allows for cannabis purchased under prescription to be claimed as a “medical expense” deduction on your federal income taxes. Here’s how it works:
Who qualifies to claim medical cannabis?
Anyone with a prescription from an authorized medical practitioner to purchase cannabis from a licensed producer. Producers are legally required to issue receipts, which you’ll need come tax filing time. Hold on to the paper copies, or find out how to access your receipts online. In case of an audit or review, the CRA recommends keeping receipts for six years.
What can you claim?
The amount paid for fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oils, and cannabis seeds and plants procured from a licensed producer – basically, product only. You cannot claim costs related to growing or accessories such as lights, containers and other storage, fertilizers, vaporizers, pipes, capsules, or capsule filler machines.
How do you file?
Check your receipts and tally up the amount you spent on medical cannabis, and add the total to any other allowable medical expenses you plan to claim on your T1 Income Tax and Benefit Return, the most basic form filed by individual Canadians to complete their income tax return. If your return is prepared by a professional, submit your receipts to them. If you use tax software to complete your return, you’ll be prompted to enter your medical expenses in the deductions and credits section.
Medical expenses don’t have to be calculated by the calendar year, but by any 12-month period ending in the current tax year (2018). If you already claimed these expenses on your last tax return, you can’t claim them again.
What gets deducted?
Your total eligible medical expenses minus the lesser of $2,302, or 3% of your net income (your income after taxes). Depending on how much you make and amount of medical expenses claimed, the threshold can be high. Here are two examples using different incomes and the same $2,500 in medical expenses:
If your net income is $70,000, you must deduct $2,100 from your total medical expenses. You will receive a credit of $400.
If your net income is $30,000, you must deduct $900 from your total medical expenses. You will receive a credit of $1,600.
Each province and territory has different tax laws and policies, but you only have to submit one return through the CRA. Except for Quebec, all provinces and territories let the federal government collect income taxes and administer the returns. Quebec residents file both a provincial income tax return with Revenu Québec and a federal return with the CRA.
The deadline to file your income tax return for the 2018 year is April 30, 2019, or by June 17 if you’re self-employed.
Sourced from: Lift & Co.
On the eighth episode of The Fear of Science, hosts Jeff Porter and Daniel Chai talk about weed and weed culture with Terry Roycroft CEO of MCRCI and comedian Kyle Bottom. Find out what has changed after legalization in Canada and the advances in medicinal marijuana science.
‘The Fear of Weed’
MCRCI is excited to be teaming up with Integrative Alternative Health Service (IAHS) in Red Deer, Alberta! We are happy to be able to offer our industry leading experience to patients in Red Deer and surrounding areas.
MCRCI is joining forces with IAHS; taking over their medicinal cannabis service, adding, support, resources and experience. We will be offering our services to patients (new & old) at IAHS including both our Basic and Production memberships.
IAHS’ mission is to transform how Health & Wellness is perceived through integrative therapies & education focused on Mind, Body & Soul. Bringing these services to your front door. IAHS offers service across Central Alberta so call them today at 587.679.4247 for more information.
Our services through IAHS include:
Evaluation of a patient’s eligibility for medicinal cannabis
Access to Health Canada & ACMPR program
Additional support, as needed, for patients under 18 and patients with no previous
Support from MCRCI educators in understanding the advantages of different licensed
producers and their products
Support from MCRCI educators on cannabis as a medicine, strains, and administration
The arrangement of appropriate follow-up visits with the physician
Adjustments in a cannabis treatment program as needed, to include changes in daily
amounts authorized, re-issuing of medical documents, and additional documentation
Assistance in responding to employer concerns regarding the use of cannabis for
Access to MCRCI educators for ongoing support and guidance
Guidance in the federal ACMPR program
Information regarding dispensaries and/or compassion clubs
Timely reminders to renew ACMPR authorization
Discounts on accessories and products (books, vaporizers, etc.)
“(Dr. Ian) Mitchell, who is participating in a randomized controlled study on the effects of cannabis on patients with post-traumatic stress syndrome, said a lot of what is known about the harms of marijuana also comes from observational data.
He also noted randomized controlled studies examining the benefits of marijuana have been suppressed for decades due to a research blockade in the U.S.”
Read more: Kamloops This Week
The Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre Inc. is now open in Halifax, Nova Scotia!
MCRCI is now coast to coast across Canada after having opened our doors in Halifax.
We are excited to have the opportunity to assist patients on the East Coast offering our education and guidance in medicinal cannabis and Health Canada’s Access to Medicinal Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) program.
MCRCI began our commitment to helping patients in 2010 opening our first location in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Since then we have been able to open our doors into 2 more BC cities, Vernon and Kamloops allowing us to help patients in the Okanagan Valley and surrounding areas.
Our move to Halifax has been something that we have been working toward since our initial opening in 2010. We are very proud to now have our feet on the ground on the East Coast! After spending time in Nova Scotia, our team has met wonderful individuals who we believe are a great representation of the patients we will be meeting moving forward.
We encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about cannabis as a medicine to contact us at our new Halifax location:
128 – 1535 Dresden Row
Phone: 902 405 5553
Email: [email protected]
Fax: 902 417 1413
Information released July 2018
For the full PDF version, please follow this link: Complete Provincial Breakdown for Cannabis Regulations – July 2018
As recreational cannabis legalization draws closer, some companies are missing the mark when it comes to employer training.
Last Friday, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade hosted ‘Cannabis in the Workplace’—a discussion to address employer concerns regarding the changes to federal and provincial laws.
With a two-hour time limit, the event set out to answer the not-so-simple question: “What do employers need to be considering and how do they need to be preparing now for legal cannabis and the workplace?”
It’s important to note that while medical cannabis has been legal for nearly two decades, the number of Canadians now registered in the federal program has shot up to over 230,000, leaving employers scrambling to update their policies and educate supervisors.
Barring a few pot quips and iterations of uncertainty, the conference fell dramatically short of providing much clarity. What could have been an opportunity to outline cannabis-specific policy changes and accommodations for employees with medical prescriptions, dissolved quickly into a vague Q & A period urging employers to turn their focus toward risk mitigation and potential lawsuits.
To clarify the details, keynote speaker Solicitor General Mike Farnworth opened the luncheon with a bullet point overview of the new regulatory framework, in which he made it very clear that there will be zero tolerance for impairment in the workplace. “Employees have a duty to come to work sober and nothing about cannabis legalization will change that,” he said. The term ‘impairment’ stuck and dictated the conversation throughout the remaining panel discussion.
Right out of the gate, Dave Earle, CEO of the B.C. Trucking Association, reaffirmed employer attention needs to stay on the issue of cannabis abuse in the workplace. “For employers that don’t believe you have a substance use issue in your workplace, I’m going to break it to you…you do,” he said.
While impairment is absolutely a pressing concern, especially in safety sensitive work environments, most of the policies the panel went on to address already exist to tackle substances like alcohol or prescription medication, even cannabis.
Taking on the human rights angle, Cindy Zheng, a lawyer with McQuarrie Hunter LLP, warned employers of potential violations where underlying medical conditions exist. It seemed the conversation was about to take the right turn, but after continuously linking cannabis with cocaine and alcohol, however, she failed to specifically address what it means to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship—the threshold set by the B.C. Human Rights Legislation.
Zheng went on to suggest employers fall back on existing alcohol and tobacco policies, until, that is, they run into discrepancies.
“We would recommend an outright prohibition on site,” she says. Later adding, “if there is a distinction, and I’m not saying there should be, but if there is, make sure you have an articulate and reasonable basis for that distinct treatment of cannabis.”
Excluding the fundamental distinction that should be made from a medical standpoint, the number of reasons to encourage employers to understand the difference between alcohol and cannabis are seemingly endless. Let’s start with addiction rates, behavioural tendencies and overall health implications, and see if we can find a “reasonable basis” somewhere in there.
Mike Kilgallin, a partner at Rober Greyell LLP, urged employers use their own judgement when it comes to swift action, or at least until science provides a more suitable alternative.
“While we may not be able to definitively prove somebody is impaired, we want to say “there is a risk” and we want to remove [that individual] from the workplace,” says Kilgallin.
“There are going to be a lot of level-headed employees who are going to understand [expectations] and who are going to not turn the lunch room into a hotbox,” Kilgallin added. “Focus on the small few, the ones who create problems.”
It wasn’t made clear if the trouble-makers he was referring to included medical cannabis patients or just potheads who now felt empowered by the new legislation to get stoned mid-shift. One would assume the latter, but since there was hardly any reference throughout the entire conversation to dealing with medical users, it was hard to tell.
One quick-fix posed by the panelists was the integration of a self-disclosure policy. Employees would be encouraged to go on record with their addiction and dependency issues in order to protect themselves and the company. The idea here is that if the issue is not disclosed pre-incident, they would not be entitled to safeguards like rehabilitation and graduated reintegration programs.
CEO of the Medical Cannabis Resource Centre Inc., Terry Roycroft, suggests this policy, made infamous by a lawsuit won by Elk Valley Coal in Alberta last year, won’t do much when it comes to cannabis. “That would be a very difficult thing to ask,” says Roycroft. “Most people aren’t going to consider even high recreational use an addiction.”
Roycroft, who is now in the process of helping several patients apply for cannabis coverage under their workplace medical insurance, says that companies have several options to work with their employees.
“There are products that can be prescribed by a doctor that will not get them impaired,” says Roycroft. Going one step further, one of the areas MCRCI specializes in is creating specific healthcare programs for individuals based on their condition and day-to-day demands. “We can work with their HR departments […] and make recommendations of when they could use psychoactive THC and when they would be safe to go back to work or safe to drive after that usage.”
Unfortunately, it seems some companies still have a long way to go before understanding the dire need to work with their employees in this new cannabis-friendly country. “Medical marijuana is just another substance,” said Earle. “You have to treat it like any other substance.” If that’s the level from which employers are to start their education, it will be a long and treacherous journey to a new workplace culture.
by Piper Courtenay on March 10th, 2018 at 10:00 AM
TORONTO — Sun Life Financial Inc. is adding medical marijuana coverage as an option for its group benefits plans, signalling an insurance industry shift and growing acceptance of the drug that bodes well for Canada’s burgeoning cannabis sector.
The Toronto-based insurer’s president and chief executive Dean Connor said the move was influenced by rising interest from Sun Life’s employer clients.
“Medical marijuana has become a very important part of their treatment program and pain management program,” said Connor, referring to patients who have cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or those requiring palliative care.
Currently, the vast majority of registered patients must pay for medical marijuana out of their own pockets. But the move by Sun Life, which provides health benefits coverage to more than three million Canadians and their families, or one-in-six Canadians, could set a precedent for other insurers.
The new offering comes as the country moves to legalize cannabis for recreational use later this year and as the number of registered medical marijuana patients grows. There were more than 235,000 medical marijuana patients in the system across Canada at the end of September 2017 — the most recent date for which data is available — more than double the roughly 98,500 a year earlier, noted Vahan Ajamian, a Beacon Securities Ltd. research analyst.
“The insurance companies have been getting pressure to cover this as a regular medicine,” he said.
Meanwhile, pharmacists and pharmacies have also been warming up to cannabis.
Shoppers Drug Mart has lined up supply agreements with licensed producers, conditional upon Health Canada’s approval of its application to dispense the drug. The Canadian Pharmacists Association and two Quebec groups representing the industry have also said that pharmacies should play a leading role in medical marijuana’s distribution.
Jonathan Zaid, the executive director of patient advocacy group Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, said Sun Life’s enhanced coverage comes after years of litigation to gain acceptance for medical marijuana.
“Although there may not be immediate benefit for patients as specific plan sponsors will need to purchase the coverage, this move will make covering medical cannabis simpler than today’s exception process and speaks volumes to the broader acceptance and legitimacy of medical cannabis,” he said.
A number of plan sponsors have moved to cover medical cannabis costs over the years, Zaid noted, including the University of Waterloo’s student union, the Arthritis Society, Loblaw Companies Ltd., the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), and the Labourers’ International Union of North America. Those plans have varying eligibility criteria and levels of coverage, he added.
Starting March 1, plan sponsors with Sun Life will have the option to add medical cannabis coverage to extended health-care plans, ranging from $1,500 to $6,000 per covered person per year.
Medical cannabis coverage will be available for specific conditions and symptoms associated with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, HIV-AIDS, and palliative care.
In order to qualify for coverage, Sun Life plan members must meet specific criteria including an authorization letter from a physician and registration with a medical marijuana producer licensed with Health Canada.
Sun Life will also conduct periodic reviews of the growing body of clinical research supporting the use of medical cannabis for other conditions, and update its criteria if necessary, the company said in a document updating their client base of 22,300 plan sponsors.
Although this coverage does not encompass the full range of conditions and it is unclear how many businesses will use it, the insurer’s new offering is a positive development for Canada’s licensed medical marijuana producers, said Ajamian.
“Anything that makes it easier/cheaper for patients to get access should result in more patients, more volume, and (especially if it’s free) potentially more pricing power for producers,” he said in an email.
Manulife Financial Corp., one of Canada’s biggest insurers, offers medical cannabis coverage to clients on a selective basis, a spokesperson said.
“Manulife is supportive of clients that want to consider introducing medical cannabis as an option,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We also recommend that clients put limits and some management controls in place as this is an emerging market that is quickly evolving.”
As acceptance among insurers and employers appears to grow, a landmark battle over coverage of medical marijuana that helped add to the public conversation remains in the hands of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
In October 2016, ThyssenKrupp Elevator Canada elevator mechanic Gordon Skinner went before the province’s Human Rights Tribunal over his union’s denial of coverage for his prescribed medical marijuana. The Nova Scotia man was injured in a motor vehicle accident in August 2010 while working, and was later prescribed medical cannabis to help with chronic pain. In January 2017, the tribunal ruled that the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Fund discriminated against Skinner, and ruled that his employer must cover medical marijuana.
The union took the case to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal last fall, and Skinner is now awaiting the final ruling, said his counsel Hugh Scher.
Scher is optimistic about the outcome and noted Sun Life’s new offering is “a very positive development in the sense of recognizing the efficacy of medical marijuana, and attempting to provide for a means of enabling employers and insurers to address that need.”
Companies in this story: (TSX:SLF, TSX:MFC)
Armina Ligaya, The Canadian Press, Feb. 15, 2018.
By Staff The Canadian Press
MONTREAL – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says “next summer,” and not July 1, is the date cannabis will become legal across the country.
Excerpts of an interview Trudeau gave the TVA network in Quebec were broadcast Tuesday, with the full interview to be shown Wednesday night.
READ MORE: Canadians could pay at least $1 per gram in weed tax, plus GST: feds
Trudeau shook his head when interviewer Pierre Bruneau asked him why he was so obsessed with July 1 as the date for the cannabis legislation to become law.
The prime minister said it “would not be July 1,” but that it would be “for next summer.”
“The date will not be July 1, I can assure you of that,” Trudeau said. “I don’t know where that date came from.”
Several provinces have asked the federal government to delay passing the legislation in order to give them more time to prepare.
A statement issued by the Health Department last month said, “as previously indicated, the government of Canada intends to bring the proposed Cannabis Act into force no later than July 2018.”
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has created a website to keep the public updated on their process of preparing for the sale of legal cannabis by July 2018.
The website, lcbocannabisupdates.com, provides introductory information to the general public to help understand the steps the LCBO is taking to find the 40 initial cannabis store locations that the province has said they intend to have in place for legalization. The province intends to have 80 stores by 2019 and ‘up to’ 150 stores by 2020.
Although still short on specifics, the website contains a FAQ section that says the government plans to train all employees selling cannabis in the LCBO to know about the products and related safety information relating to them.
It also states that the Government of Ontario will be choosing locations for their first 40 stores with the goal of reducing the amount of illegal stores, “including dispensaries,” that are currently operating in Ontario.
Municipalities identified for a location will have an opportunity to have input in the process.
The age limit for consumption and possession in the province will be 19 and all cannabis sales will be through employees, not direct-to-customers sales, via traditional vending machines, for example.
Sourced from: Lift News – https://news.lift.co/lcbo-unveils-retail-cannabis-website/