Appeals board denies medical cannabis workers’ compensation

This post was originally published on this site

Courtesy of Lift Magazine

Medical cannabis has quickly become a widely accepted form of treatment for a variety of conditions, with some insurance providers cautiously granting coverage for benefit recipients. However, we also cannot lose sight of the fact that medical cannabis is not exactly a conventional medicine, and as such is sometimes looked down upon by institutions.

Case in point: a decision released this week by the Appeals Commission for Alberta Workers’ Compensation, which confirmed a decision from the Dispute Resolution and Decision Review Body (DRDRB) that saw a worker receive zero coverage for his use of medical cannabis to treat chronic pain that resulted from two work-related accidents he had suffered.

The employee submitted that he had tried a number of conventional medications and that they either didn’t work or produced untwanted side effects. The man also had a medical opinion provided by his treating physician indicating that cannabis had helped him.

Still, the Appeals Board had to answer a number of questions in order to determine if the medical cannabis should be covered, as required by Policy 04-06 from the Workers’ Compensation Board.

The Board had to ask itself a number of questions regarding the workers’ use of cannabis, including if the use of medical marijuana was considered clinically advisable. The Board also had to ponder whether the prescription was “excessive, ineffective, inappropriate or harmful.”

Because medical cannabis is a non-standard, not generally accepted medical aid or experimental aid, the Board had to consider another set of questions, including whether all conventional aid had been tried or at least considered, and that there was sufficient evidence to indicate the medical aid intervention had a positive effect on human health outcomes that qualify as part of a comprehensive work return or rehabilitation program.

The Board ultimately found that medical cannabis was in fact clinically advisable, and determined that it did not consider the prescription excessive, ineffective, inappropriate or harmful. However, the board found that the treating physician’s letter in support of cannabis was not a comprehensive plan that sought as a goal his return to work. The Board also cited the medical consultant hired by the WCB, who found that the worker was more likely to experience chronic harmful effects than beneficial ones.

There will likely be a continuation of these types of claims before the Workers’ Compensation Board and appeal bodies. As medical cannabis becomes an accepted treatment option we should see the needle move with respect to workers’ compensation claims for medical cannabis.

Featured image via Cannabis Reports

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