Canadian Armed Forces member Michael Korchak showed up to Burlington on December 23rd to catch a flight home for Christmas. He's in the process of receiving a medical discharge from the Armed Forces due to a traumatic injury he suffered on duty.
To help him ease the chronic pain from his injury, Korchak has a prescription for medical marijuana from his doctor, verified by the RCMP and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
Korchak showed up to the Burlington airport three hours early with appropriate paperwork in order so everything would go smoothly with his flight.
Things didn't go smoothly.
Despite having all his papers in order, Korchak was told by Air Canada offical that he could not board the flight unless he got rid of the $100 worth of medication he needed to have. Korchak tried to lobby his case and explain why he needed the medication and how he had all the correct paperwork. The airline refused to let him board.
At the gate people started to stare at him and whisper among themselves. Air Canada officials claimed he was "being difficult" and threatened to call security.
"It was humiliating," he said in an interview with the Toronto Sun. "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 went on to explain being humiliated, "They were incredibly rigid and not at all discreet. All of this happened at the gate. More Air Canada employees kept showing up. By the end, there was a crowd of 10 to 12 of them. They're staring, they're whispering. Eventually, I'm told if I don't drop the issue they're going to have security remove me from the airport."
Finally, Korchak asked for a refund so he could fly on another airline, but Air Canada initially refused. Later, the airline reversed its decision and has said they would refund his fare, however, Korchak has not received any of that money yet.