The legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use is under consideration by a number of states. A subsidiary issue – the use of marijuana as a medical treatment – has been decided in favor of the plant by a number of states, including Connecticut. Anyone whose marijuana treatment satisfies the criteria specified in the statute is eligible for reimbursement for the costs of such treatment.

Another issue is now emerging: are employers and their workers’ compensation insurers required to reimburse injured workers for the cost of marijuana treatment? The issue is now before the Connecticut Supreme Court in the case of Petrini v. Marcus Dairy. The worker suffered a severe back injury that caused him debilitating pain and his doctors prescribed marijuana as treatment. The Workers’ Compensation Commission decided that the employer was liable for the cost of the treatments. Most observers expect the worker to prevail when the appeal is decided. A similar case is pending in Maine and the same outcome is expected.

The laws of some states expressly permit insurers to decline reimbursement for medical marijuana treatment costs. Some insurers are paying for marijuana treatments voluntarily because the medication is deemed to be reasonable and effective and because it is often cheaper than other treatments.

Anyone who has been prescribed medical marijuana as treatment for a work-related injury and is having difficulty obtaining reimbursement for the expense may wish to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide advice on the law and evidence that apply to the case and whether an insurer can be compelled to pay for such treatment.

Source: Claims Journal, “Medical Marijuana Treatment Slowly Gains Traction in Workers’ Comp,” Denise Johnson, Feb. 20, 2018