Pubdate: Tue, 16 May 2017
Source: Telegram, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2017 The Telegram
Author: Glen Whiffen
Page: A1


Worker anxiously awaits arbitration case

Part 4 in a four-part series

Scott Tizzard remains mired in a career no-man's land.

At one point he stopped taking his medical marijuana for a month so he
could pass the pre-employment urine test for one company - with the
employer fully aware - but was still denied work.

He's worked for companies that hold contracts with Nalcor Energy, the
Crown corporation leading the Lower Churchill development.

"I was told (by one employer) I was red-flagged because I had a
medical marijuana prescription and had filed a grievance," he said.

"I'm being discriminated against because I have a medical marijuana

Tizzard has been prescribed countless medications by his family doctor
over the years to try to find a balance that would counter the pain of
osteoarthritis and not aggravate his Crohn's disease. The list of
medications was provided to potential employers by his doctor. When
those medications didn't give Tizzard any relief, his doctor
recommended medical marijuana.

Tizzard was working on a major contract related to the Lower Churchill
project in April 2016 when he started the process of getting medical
marijuana, and filled his first prescription in early May last year.
He immediately informed his supervisor of the prescription, and
nothing changed at work.

He worked every day and used medical marijuana at night, without any

Tizzard was laid off from that job last October when the work ended
and, in November, he was dispatched by the union to another job with a
different company. It was then, after he took the required
pre-employment alcohol and drug test, that his problems arose -
despite the fact he had a doctor-prescribed medical marijuana card.

His union filed a grievance. Don Murphy, business manager with
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1620,
cannot comment on a specific member's case, but said the issue of
medicinal marijuana is new ground for unions to be dealing with, as

Medical marijuana has been available in Canada since 2001, and there's
been continued debate about its effectiveness for dealing with pain
and other health conditions.

On April 7, Canabo Medical Inc. released the results of what it called
"a new, landmark observational study" that connects doctor-supervised
medical cannabis treatments to a sharp drop in reliance on
benzodiazepines (drugs primarily used for treating anxiety, insomnia
and other conditions) among Canadian patients.

According to a news release, research conducted over the past year
revealed that 40 per cent of patients who were prescribed medical
cannabis to treat pain and anxiety stopped using benzodiazepines
within 90 days. That percentage increased to 45 per cent within a year
of cannabis treatment.

The findings were announced by Dr. Neil Smith, executive chairman of
Canabo, during a presentation at a Canadian Consortium for the
Investigation of Cannabinoids event in Toronto.

In Canada, 10 per cent of the population uses benzodiazepines daily,
with common side-effects such as sedation, dizziness, drowsiness,
unsteadiness, headache and memory impairment. Long-term benzodiazepine
use is also associated with complications, including problems with
concentration, tolerance, addiction and overdose.

"We wanted to take a close look at the likelihood of continued
benzodiazepine usage after commencing medical cannabis treatments, and
to be perfectly honest, the results are extremely promising," said

"When conducting this type of research, experts are typically
encouraged by an efficacy rate in the neighbourhood of 10 per cent. To
see 45 per cent effectiveness demonstrates that the medical cannabis
industry is at a real watershed moment."

Tizzard, meanwhile, says he doesn't want to be a guinea pig for
companies, unions, and the provincial and federal governments trying
to navigate their way through the marijuana - both medical and
recreational - snafu.

He says he did everything he was asked to do.

"When I first went to Fit for Work (to get a drug and alcohol test
done) the union told me to present my medical marijuana card and I
should be good to go," Tizzard said. "(Fit for Work) said, no, they
don't take those. The lab will call you and inform you that you
failed, and you disclose that to the company."

Tizzard said after the company was informed of his medical marijuana
status and he sent his detailed doctor's note, the company wanted more
information, and eventually wanted consent to access his health
records. He said that was too invasive, given his doctor had provided
all the necessary information in a letter.

Tizzard said his union agreed, and that is all part of his arbitration
case scheduled for later this month.
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MAP posted-by: Matt