A Regina man who wants the Workers' Compensation Board to pay for his medicinal marijuana has won a victory in the Court of Queen's Bench.
Carey Heilman injured his back in 1981 and 1997, has been through several surgeries, but has been unable to return to work.
For years, he's been taking marijuana to deal with chronic pain and back spasms. Heilman has a doctor's prescription and gets the marijuana from a licenced supplier.
He said he takes four grams a day, smoked and in vapourized form.
"I was quite shocked when it helped so much — pain and spasms," Heilman told CBC News.
Right now, his supplier is running a tab, but in the future Heilman is looking at having to come up with anywhere from $600 to $1,200 a month.
Workers comp has refused to pay for the pot saying it's against Policy 10/2011, which states: "The WCB will not reimburse the costs of obtaining, growing, or using medical marijuana (i.e. the smoked form)."
A special tribunal was held to consider the matter, but it ruled against Heilman, citing the policy and saying there's "a lack of scientific information providing support for the use of medical marijuana."
Now, a judge has said the tribunal erred. It should have considered the case on its merits, rather than just pulling out the WCB policy book.
"In my view, it appears from the tribunal's decision that it did not make an independent determination about whether Board Policy 10/2011 applied to the applicant," Justice Janet McMurtry said in her ruling.
"Instead the tribunal held that because the medical department and/or medical consultant did not support medical marijuana, neither did it."
Her decision doesn't necessarily mean Heilman will get his marijuana paid for, but does mean he gets a new hearing. Heilman said he's prepared to continue his case, but he hopes Workers' Comp simply agrees to pay.
"The judge's ruling is quite firm and quite strong," he said. "If they were merciful, I wouldn't have to jump through any more hoops."