Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 746 21
M. Crystal
  • Health care (medical aid) (marijuana)

The worker had entitlement for traumatic mental stress arising out of stressful circumstances in his employment as a parole officer. The worker was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and was granted a NEL award of 20%. He continued to work as a parole officer although he continued to experience psychological symptoms. The worker's treating psychiatrist prescribed medical marijuana to treat the worker's PTSD. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement to reimbursement of the costs of medical marijuana purchased prior to March 1, 2019.

The appeal was allowed.
Medical marijuana for the treatment of the worker's PTSD was necessary, appropriate, and sufficient health care.
The Board's policy on medical marijuana did not come into effect until March 1, 2019. For purchases prior to March 1, 2019, Tribunal jurisprudence set out the requirements for entitlement to reimbursement for the cost of medical marijuana.
The worker experienced constant and debilitating psychological symptoms and emotional pain related to his work injury. The ARO concluded that the worker's condition was not "severe" based on the definition of "severely impaired workers" in Board policy regarding Personal Care Allowances. However, although Tribunal jurisprudence implied that entitlement was reserved for "severe" cases, being those where the worker suffered "constant and debilitating pain," the jurisprudence did not highlight the term "severe" or refer to the definition from the policy. The definition in the policy did not have application to the determination of entitlement for medical marijuana.
The fact the worker's pain was emotional pain did not disqualify him from entitlement. The reference to "constant and debilitating pain" in Tribunal jurisprudence did not mean that the pain had to be organic in origin. The principles set out in the cases were guiding principles, not exact criteria that had to be strictly applied in the same manner in every case. The worker's psychiatrist reported that the worker experienced ongoing and debilitating psychological symptoms associated with his PTSD diagnosis.
Other methods of treating the worker had been ineffective, the worker's psychiatrist had formed a reasonable opinion that the medical marijuana would be effective, and the worker had the appropriate authorizations to use and possess medical marijuana.