November 26, 2019
By Rebecca Batisto
With marijuana laws evolving with each election across the country, the odds of medical marijuana being used in treating workers’ compensation injuries are rising. Courts and lawmakers continue to wrestle with whether or not insurers are to pay for medical marijuana which is still a Schedule 1 drug (Opioids are Schedule 2 and are covered by plans).
Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states, yet remains illegal on the Federal level. Currently, only five states require insurers to pay workers’ compensation claims involving medical marijuana (Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New Mexico). This leaves the remaining states in a gray area.
Medical professionals are turning to medical marijuana for two main reasons. First, they believe it’s effective and less addictive in treating pain, and second, they are trying to steer clear of contributing to the opioid crisis.
These trends indicate that medical marijuana is not going anywhere and will continue to challenge the status quo. The question of who will pay for medical marijuana remains at issue while courts hear arguments on both sides. So far Michigan is the only state to clarify that employers do not have to pay for the treatment.
While research continues on the efficacy of marijuana, states will continue to wrestle with the laws. Today, employers have the right to declare a “drug-free workplace” within states where marijuana is legal either medically or recreationally. However, even those laws are being challenged as prescriptions employees take are protected by privacy laws.
When it comes to workers’ compensation coverage and claims, the issue of medical marijuana is ever evolving and will continue to do so for years to come. Some employers are electing to reimburse employees, while others are waiting for the states to sort it out. In any case, it’s best to consult your insurance company and legal counsel to ensure you are covered.
Normandy Insurance keeps up with the ever-changing landscape of workers’ compensation coverage so you don’t have to! If you are an employer in need of support to understand the trends and changes facing the industry and how that could affect your coverage, call us today!