How does medical marijuana affect workers’ compensation claims?

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2016 | Workers' Compensation |

The use of medical marijuana is being accepted more and more across the United States. It’s a complex issue and is impacting many areas of employment, including drug-free workplace policies, drug testing, hiring policies, Americans with Disability Act compliance and insurance coverage.

State legislatures are passing laws that make it permissible for residents, and in some cases visitors, to possess and use marijuana for recreational and/or medicinal purposes. Currently, there are four states and the District of Columbia that allow marijuana’s recreational use. Twenty-three states allow medicinal marijuana, including Illinois.

Because state and federal laws are not the same, local governments often lack guidance or precedence when it comes to medical marijuana and the workplace. This results in a lack of direction about who should pay for medical marijuana when it is prescribed for workers’ compensation cases. The National Council for Compensation Insurance reports that there are requests coming in for them to cover medical marijuana costs. It also said that it is monitoring how states decide the matter.

Some state courts have ruled the costs of medical marijuana be paid by workers’ compensation or self-insured employers. The first instance of this happening is believed to be a ruling from the New Mexico Court of Appeals affirmed the Workers’ Compensation board’s decision to pay for medical marijuana.

If you have been injured at work or have developed a work-related illness and your physician prescribes medical marijuana, you may need to file a claim for reimbursement with the help of an attorney. You also may need an attorney’s help to file a workers’ compensation claim appeal if you had a drug test come up positive for marijuana and you currently have a medical marijuana prescription.

Source: Integro Group, “The Impact of Marijuana Legalization on Workers Compensation,” Jack Green and Patricia Ostrowski, accessed June 17, 2016

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