Nova Scotia has been ordered to pay for the medical marijuana used by a woman who is on social assistance. In a decision released Wednesday afternoon, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ordered the Department of Community Services to pay for Sally Campbell’s prescription pot, reports Beverley Ware of The Chronicle Herald.
Campbell suffers from numerous ailments, and has a certificate from Health Canada giving her permission to use cannabis to relieve her nausea and pain.
The province had denied Campbell’s request to increase her monthly allowance to cover the cost of the cannabis. Campbell appealed that decision to a one-person appeal board, which also denied her request.
She then went before a Supreme Court justice last month and won, with the decision released publicly Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s been a long process,” said Donna Franey, the Dalhousie Legal Aid lawyer who presented Campbell’s case, which she first took on in 20905. “I don’t think we’d be going through this if it was Tylenol 3. I think there’s so much scrutiny of this case because of what it is; I think that’s why it’s been such a difficult fight.”
Justice Minister Ross Landry declined to comment on the specific case because his department “has not yet reviewed it,” but said he has no problem with the ruling if medical professionals determine marijuana is beneficial for a patient’s health.
“If that’s the medication for them I don’t have an issue with that as long as it’s controlled and regulated in an appropriate manner to ensure the safety of the person receiving the treatment,” Landry said Wednesday afternoon.
“I also want to make sure the public itself is safe,” Landry added.
Franey said Campbell has been debilitated by pain as she’s gone without medical marijuana because she didn’t have the money to pay for it. Franey called her client Monday evening with news of the court decision.
“She’s excited,” Franey said. “Very, very pleased. She’s tried a lot of other medications and they were just toxic; she suffered some horrible side effects. In terms of her health and quality of life, it’s going to make a huge difference.”
Franey said she expects there will be others on income assistance who also use medical marijuana who will now come forward and ask the province to pay for it.
Each applicant will have to do as Campbell did, appearing before a special needs hearing. Patients must prove that the marijuana improves their quality of life, works better than other medications and is essential to their well-being.
Campbell’s docteor had provided a letter saying medical marijuana is “essential to her health and well-being.” The physician said cannabis, in addition to relieving her pain and nausea, also improves her concentration, focus and energy level.
In his decision, Justice Gerald Moir found that the appeal board really had only one finding based on the evidence provided: “Medical marijuana is essential for Ms. Campbell.”