Paying for Patients’ Pot? SCOTUS Seeks DOJ Opinion on Medical Cannabis Coverage

Paying for Patients’ Pot? SCOTUS Seeks DOJ Opinion on Medical Cannabis Coverage
CANNANNEW REPORT

By: James C. Asbill  [5/5/22] On February 22, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States asked the United States Department of Justice to weigh in on an issue that has divided state courts in recent years: should states with laws requiring insurers and employers to compensate medical marijuana users for the costs of their cannabis be given deference superior to federal drug policy? The question comes as the Court weighs taking up an appeal from the Minnesota Supreme Court, which ruled that an employer could not be forced to cover the costs of medical marijuana prescribed to an employee, because it would be abetting a federal crime. [1] The thrust of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision was that the Controlled Substances Act, 221 U.S.C. §§ 801-971 (“CSA”), which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, preempted Minnesota workers’ compensation law which required an employer to reimburse an injured employee who uses medical cannabis for the treatment of a work-related injury. [2] Specifically, the court found that requiring the employer (and, by extension, its workers’ compensation insurer) to pay for cannabis, even if a valid medical treatment under Minnesota law, would expose the employer to criminal liability under federal law for aiding and abetting the employee’s unlawful possession of cannabis.  The Minnesota court’s decision was the most recent in a series of state court opinions finding that federal criminal law preempts state laws decriminalizing the possession and use of medical cannabis in the context of workers’ compensation. In Bourgoin v. Twin Rivers Paper Co., LLC, an opinion cited by the Minnesota Supreme Court in Musta, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a state order to reimburse an employee for medical cannabis would require the employer to “engage in conduct that would violate the CSA.” [3] Similarly, in Wright’s Case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that, while a state…

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Source : Paying for Patients’ Pot? SCOTUS Seeks DOJ Opinion on Medical Cannabis Coverage

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