One request for medical cannabis coverage approved, another denied 

| Staff

One worker in Nova Scotia has had their request for coverage for medical cannabis approved, while another has been denied. 

The Nova Scotia Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal came to a decision in two separate medical cannabis-related appeals on October 11, allowing one appeal for coverage while denying another. 

In the approved appeal, the worker had been injured on February 2, 2016, while working as a dishwasher. Following her injury, she was diagnosed with a full-thickness tear of a tendon and underwent shoulder surgery in September 2016, after which she continued to experience pain. 

The worker was awarded a permanent medical impairment (PMI) rating of 10.8% for this injury and her physician sought approval for medical cannabis as part of the treatment for her shoulder pain.

A decision was initially made by a case manager in May 2020 to deny approval for coverage of her medical cannabis. This was upheld on appeal two months later. 

The worker then filed a Notice of Appeal on August 5, 2020.

The appeal noted that the worker found cannabis to be more helpful than she had expected, helped her get out of the house more often and also more around the house, and it was with the approval of her family doctor of 35 years.

In his decision to approve the appeal, the appeal commissioner noted that he gave more weight to the worker’s doctors than the board’s physicians who argued against the efficacy of medical cannabis, given their many years of experience with the worker. 

The appeal was approved, ruling that the worker is entitled to Medical Aid Benefits for medical cannabis.

In the appeal that was denied, the worker had a repeated work-related shoulder injury starting in 2010. In 2013, the worker requested coverage for medical cannabis. His first request was denied by the board and the tribunal on appeal. The worker then made a second request in 2021, which was denied. The worker finally appealed that decision to the Tribunal.  

As part of the reason for refusal, the board and then the appeal commissioner ruled that the worker’s injury was from musculoskeletal pain rather than neuropathic pain. The Board’s own cannabis rules approve cannabis for neuropathic pain.

Although like the previous appeal, the worker’s doctor had known him for many years, and the worker achieved some pain relief with cannabis, the appeal commissioner found that there was “insufficient evidence of a condition for which the science and research has shown cannabis to be safe and effective.”