HALIFAX, Sept. 28, 2017 – On Monday October 2, 2017 at 10am, The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal is scheduled to hold a hearing in Skinner, a case related to discrimination stemming from denial of medical cannabis benefits coverage where it was found to be medically necessary and effective for Gordon “Wayne” Skinner.
In a January 30, 2017 landmark ruling, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Tribunal concluded that Mr. Skinner’s union, the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Fund, committed discrimination by denying benefits coverage for Mr. Skinner’s prescribed medical cannabis. The Welfare Trust Fund appealed the case to the NS Court of Appeal. The case is set to be heard October 2, 2017 by the Court of Appeal.
When conventional prescription medications failed to provide effective relief for his chronic pain, Mr. Skinner’s physician prescribed medical cannabis, which offered superior symptom management compared to previous treatment regimens and was found to be medically necessary and effective for Mr. Skinner. The Human Rights Tribunal ruling found that Mr. Skinner “was discriminated against when he was denied coverage for medical marijuana by the trustees responsible for making decisions under his benefits plan.” The Tribunal found that the treatment was medically necessary and consistent with the mandate of the plan to provide benefits to employees like Mr. Skinner.
Mr. Skinner is supported in his appeal by non-profit organization CFAMM and by Aurora Cannabis Inc., and in the court by The National ME/FM Network, who have been granted intervenor standing and will be making submissions in support of people with chronic pain.
“Medical cannabis has successfully reduced my pain caused by an on-the-job accident. It is prescribed by my doctor and is a safer and more effective treatment than opioids,” said Mr. Skinner. “As the Human Rights Tribunal originally ruled, medical cannabis is medically necessary and effective for my treatment, and should be covered under the plan like other medications.”
Jonathan Zaid, Executive Director of CFAMM, stated, “We hope that The Court of Appeal will carefully consider the fact that medical cannabis is medically necessary and effective for Mr. Skinner and others. Imposition of a blanket prohibition on coverage by employers and insurers adversely effects people with chronic pain who can’t tolerate other treatments. The Tribunal was correct to find that the plan’s actions were discriminatory.”
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