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Slaw: Should workers’ compensation pay for injured worker’s medical marijuana?

A recent Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench decided that an injured worker should have his case heard on its merit to determine if his medical marijuana should be paid for by workers’ compensation.

Carey Heilman injured his back on January 31, 1981, and again on March 27, 1997. After several surgeries, and a diagnosis of arachnoiditis and failed back surgery syndrome, he has been deemed unable to return to work. To overcome the ongoing pain and back spasms he suffered, Heilman has been prescribed many drug therapies and treatments though could not find adequate relief.

In May of 2002, he was prescribed medical marijuana for his pain and back spasms. In December, 2002, he received his first authorization to possess medical marijuana from Health Canada and he has possessed an authorization ever since.

Currently his licensed provider does not charge him for providing the four grams he ingests a day (smoked and in vapourized form). However, because he does not expect that his provider will delay charging him for the marijuana much longer, he made a claim to the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) for the cost of medical marijuana.

If and when he is charged for it, the cost of his medical marijuana will be $1,200.00 each month.

The WCB refused his claim. His claim was also refused by the Appeals Department and by the Appeal Tribunal. He sought judicial review of the latter decision to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench.

For more, read my latest post on Slaw.

Yosie Saint-Cyr
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor

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Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B. Managing Editor

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 18 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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