Southwestern union, medical pot grower team up for worker benefits package

LIUNA Local 625 in Windsor announced changes to its benefits plan May 9, saying medical marijuana and medical cannabis oils will be covered for members.

Union provides pain-relief alternative to discourage opioid prescriptions

Leamington medicinal marijuana producer Aphria has major plans to move into the recreational market now that the federal government has said it will legalize recreational pot by July 2018. (Nicolas Pham/Radio-Canada)

After adding medical cannabis to its workers benefits package last month, a southwestern Ontario union has found a major supplier for its new product. 

LIUNA Local 625 in Windsor announced its plan to offer cannabis to its more than 1,600 members throughout southwestern Ontario in an effort to discourage opioid prescriptions and provide a healthier, less addictive alternative. 

This week, Leamington medical marijuana producer Aphria announced it will partner with LIUNA as the union's primary cannabis provider. 

"Aphria is thrilled to be entering into a partnership with LIUNA, one of Canada's fastest growing unions," said Vic Neufeld, CEO of Aphria. "We're always looking for new and innovative ways to support patients."

The expanded benefits plan will cover medical marijuana for the union's retired or permanently injured members, but it will only allow medical cannabis oil products with reduced THC for its members who are still on the job.

In the new partnership, Aphria officials say they offer patient-centric clinics that will assist union members with cannabis education and physician services.

Rob Petroni, general manager of LIUNA Local 625, wants to see opioid prescriptions for union members decrease now that a new benefits package offers coverage for medical marijuana and cannabis oils. (Derek Spalding/CBC)

Local 625 business manager Rob Petroni looks forward to his members taking advantage of this new agreement and using alternatives to highly addictive opioids.  

"In launching this partnership with Aphria, we are taking a major step forward in improving the lives of our members," he said. "Cannabis will provide another treatment option."