U.S. Supreme Court Denies Medical Marijuana Workers’ Compensation Cases

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Medical Marijuana Workers’ Compensation Cases
MJ moment

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up a pair of cases concerning workers’ compensation for medical marijuana. This comes about a month after the Justice Department encouraged the high court to reject the cannabis cases, in part because it argued that broader marijuana policy choices were better left up to Congress or the executive branch. The new decision—denying certiorari—means that fewer than four justices felt the legal challenges merited consideration by the high court. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a majority agrees with lower court rulings in the disputes, however. These particular cases could have had wide-ranging implications related to federal supremacy. Two Minnesota residents raised their separate challenges seeking workers compensation for medical cannabis expenses after being hurt while working on the job. In both instances, the state Supreme Court ruled that federal law prohibiting marijuana preempted state law, meaning the employers were not obligated to pay for the medicine. But the plaintiffs and advocacy groups like Empire State NORML made the case that, because employers aren’t required to possess, manufacture or distribute cannabis in contravention of federal law, simply providing workers compensation for marijuana is not preempted by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). After the cases were appealed to the Supreme Court, the justices notably sought input from the top Justice Department lawyer. The solicitor general’s office filed its amicus curiae response last month, an optional move, recommending that the court not take up the matter. The filing acknowledged that several other state courts have weighed in on the issue, with differing opinions. But it said that none of those cases have “meaningfully considered all of the possible grounds for preemption,” so “no further review is warranted at this time.” Plaintiffs then filed additional briefs laying out why they disagrees with DOJ and felt the…

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