Workers comp, opioids, and medical marijuana

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The use of marijuana for medical purposes is now legal in 29 states. Marijuana has been shown to help ease pain, nausea and loss of appetite, symptoms common to cancer patients. It has also been shown to reduce epileptic seizures, ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and help relieve PTSD. Under federal law, however, it is still illegal to grow marijuana, buy it, or transport it over state lines, even for medical use.

 

Can workers’ compensation insurance cover the expenses for medical marijuana users, as well as for those who use opioids to relieve the pain of injuries suffered on the job? According to an article published this year in LexisNexis, “Generally, most jurisdictions will allow opioid treatment as a workers’ compensation medical benefit,” although some states are limiting reimbursement in their efforts to fight the opioid epidemic. “Jurisdictions take varied positions on whether employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for on-the-job injuries treated with medical marijuana.” Most states take the position that an employer is not required to accommodate an employee’s medical marijuana use and may terminate an employee on the basis of positive drug test results.

 

Some jurisdictions have statutes that relieve employers and insurers of any obligation to compensate for treatment with medical marijuana, including Colorado, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and Vermont. Maine and Connecticut have also required reimbursement for medical marijuana expenses. Other states are handling the issue differently New Mexico was the first state court to rule that an injured worker was entitled to reimbursement for medical marijuana treatment.

 

If the use of medical marijuana were studied more thoroughly, the results of scientific investigations could help clarify the legal issues. To make it easier for scientist to study marijuana’s medical effectiveness, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis is one of five senators who have introduced Marijuana Effective Drug Studies (MEDS) Act of 2017. WCNC reported that Sen. Tillis said he hopes the MEDS Act will “remove unnecessary barriers that will give scientists the ability to study the biochemical processes, impact, dosing, risks and possible benefits of cannabidiol and other components of the marijuana plant.”

 

Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in litigation and settlements, with a focus on personal injury and workers’ compensation law. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at ram@mangerlaw.com, or by calling (336) 882-2000.

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