Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 2015
Source: Toronto 24hours (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Canoe Inc.
Author: Shawn Jeffords
Page: 11


Air Canada Grounds Medicinal Marijuana User

Michael Korchak says he could see the stares and hear the whispers.

He'd hit a snag on his trip home to Burlington last Thursday for 
Christmas and a group of Air Canada employees was gathering around 
him at its busy departure gate at the Halifax airport.

The 25-year-old Canadian Armed Forces member, who's in the process of 
receiving a medical discharge because of a traumatic injury suffered 
on duty, has a prescription for medicinal marijuana to help with chronic pain.

But despite having a legal prescription and all the necessary 
paperwork, he was repeatedly told he couldn't board the plane unless 
he threw out the medicine - worth about $100.

Korchak says when he tried to prove his case with his documents, he 
was told he was being "difficult" and Air Canada workers threatened 
to call security.

"It was humiliating," he said. "Clearly, the stigma (around 
marijuana) is still there. I don't think if I was a diabetic with 
insulin I would have been treated the same way."

Korchak says he arrived for his flight three hours early with all his 
paperwork in order because he hoped to avoid any hassle.

His prescription was verified by the RCMP and the Canadian Air 
Transport Security Authority, but no one from the airline would 
explain its policy, which only allows medicinal marijuana in pill 
form, he said.

Korchak says he asked for a refund so he could fly with another 
airline, but Air Canada initially refused.

The airline changed its mind, but he says he still hasn't received the cash.

Korchak eventually flew to Toronto on Porter. The airline had no 
problem with his medicinal marijuana, he said.

"At Porter, they couldn't believe what I went through with Air 
Canada," he said. "They were absolutely stunned."

Air Canada issued an apology to Korchak Wednesday, saying it has now 
changed its medicinal marijuana policy. Talk about a hero.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom