Korchak was being released from the Canadian Armed Forces due to an injury that he received while serving.
The 25-year-old Korchak anticipated potential issues because this would be his first time flying after obtaining the medical cannabis license. He had done some research and was expecting to go through some extra questioning because of his new medication, so he arrived three hours early to make sure there was enough time to go through the process. Korchak informed Air Canada employees as soon as he arrived that he was carrying the cannabis and he presented all of them with his medical documents, but things quickly went downhill from there.
According to Korchak, “I thought being upfront would be appropriate. But I was told my form of medication wasn’t acceptable… and that Air Canada policy would only accept pill form, while I had the herb form.”
He was then told that he couldn’t bring his medicine with him on board.
Korchak went to the RCMP officials stationed at the airport to help resolve the issue, and was told that his documents checked out and he is allowed to travel.
Korchak wrote a letter to Air Canada shortly after the incident voicing his displeasure.
“I was subjected to unprofessional and discriminatory conduct from Air Canada representatives and their agents; including being threatened to have me removed from the airport, not get a refund, and be placed on an Air Canada No-Fly list,” Korchak wrote. “I was discriminated against from the moment I was upfront and honest about my needs and was embarrassed in front of a large amount of people, airport employees and passengers alike.”
The young Canadian Armed Forces member thinks that he was singled out because of the type of medicine he was carrying.
“If I was carrying insulin, or some other medication, I wouldn’t have been treated like this, or questioned in this way.”
Since Air Canada did change it’s policy after his experience, he hopes that it will prevent any future travelers from being forced to go through such a tough time.
“It’s too late for me, but if it makes it easier for someone else to travel with their medicine, I’m happy,” he said.
As legalization is rolled out across the nation, the issue of traveling with cannabis will become more of an issue with airline and airports.
A spokesperson from Air Canada told us their position on what happened.
“Unfortunately we were unable to accept Mr. Korchak with his medication on his flight to Toronto on December 17th. We apologized to Mr Korchak, immediately offered a refund, and assisted him in booking a flight on another airline. We also explained that he could submit any further expense incurred to our customer service team who are aware of his situation. Although he had official medical authorization forms he was not accepted for travel because his medical marijuana was in leaf form and our travel policies at the time only permitted medical marijuana in pill form. Our procedures for traveling with medical marijuana have since been amended to include leaf form.”
Luckily Air Canada did change it’s policy so that this specific type of situation wouldn’t happen again. If you are a planning on flying with your medicine, please take a look at this article we published earlier this year on tips for flying with medical cannabis.