Law

Chezzetcook man fights for medical marijuana coverage

'I’ve spent the last six years fighting for my life’

Gordon (Wayne) Skinner preparing himself for the hearing.
Gordon (Wayne) Skinner preparing for Monday’s hearing into his human rights complaint.   Charmaine Millaire

Gordon (Wayne) Skinner of Chezzetcook fought for medical marijuana drug coverage at a human rights hearing on Monday — a battle that could set a precedent for others prescribed medical marijuana.

“This could change peoples lives,” Skinner said in an interview.

The 50-year-old alleges that the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Fund of Ontario violated Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Act when it denied him drug coverage .

Skinner alleges he was discriminated against because of a disability, and the board of trustees denies that any discrimination occurred. The human rights hearing is being chaired by Benjamin Perryman.

“I’ve spent the last six years fighting for my life,” Skinner said during the hearing.

In August 2010, Skinner said, he was in a car accident because he had a seizure while driving a work vehicle. He was an elevator mechanic for ThyssenKrupp Elevator Ltd.

Just over a month after the accident, Skinner discovered he was not covered under the worker’s compensation program. He and his family wound up on social assistance.

After the accident, Skinner says he spent the next seven months on the sofa suffering from excruciating pain from constant migraines.

“Nothing helped the pain,” said Skinner, not even opiates or acupuncture. Skinner found that marijuana worked and became licensed to use the drug in 2012.

During his testimony, Skinner became emotional while discussing his family and the pain they also went through.

“Why should some plans cover (medical marijuana), but not others?,” said Skinner. “Under the Charter, everyone is equal.”

Skinner presented statements from the Canadian Medical Association, Health Canada policies and articles from the Toronto Star to show how effective medical marijuana is for those who need it.

“This isn’t about winning,” said Skinner. “I’ve already lost so much. This is about survival.”

Skinner is self-represented, Christopher Perri is the counsel on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Fund of Ontario, and Kendrick Douglas is the counsel for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

The hearing was slated to resume Tuesday and a third day of hearings, if necessary, will be held on Nov. 25. Perri will offer testimony on behalf of the board Tuesday, followed by the final arguments from all sides.

Perryman said he expects to reach a decision within six months on whether there was a violation of Skinner’s rights.