Cannabis industry and workers comp: A fast moving legal landscape
Are insurers required to reimburse for medical marijuana in workers compensation? That is one of the topics covered by Laura Kersey in an online article for the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).
Kersey writes that insurers are increasingly receiving requests to reimburse for medical marijuana use for workers compensation treatment, an issue complicated by the federal-state schism in the status of cannabis. While many states have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana, it is still illegal at the federal level and remains classified as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The challenge of whether to approve medical marijuana treatment for work-related injuries is being addressed through legislation and the courts.
States such as Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, and New York have permitted reimbursement for medical marijuana in certain circumstances. Others, including Florida and North Dakota, have enacted laws prohibiting payment of workers compensation benefits for medical marijuana. Louisiana passed legislation in 2018 which provided that medical marijuana reimbursement is not required for workers compensation purposes.
Other states have considered or are considering legislation to authorize the reimbursement of medical marijuana in workers compensation.
Kersey’s article focuses on legal and legislative developments on:
- The status of marijuana in various states, both recreational and medical
- The likelihood that federal legislation to decriminalize marijuana that is pending before Congress will pass (it's not likely)
- Efforts to protect financial institutions that serve marijuana-related businesses that are legal under state law from federal criminal prosecution.
She also provides an update at research – so far limited – on whether medical marijuana is a viable alternative to opioids for pain management and getting employees back to work sooner.