Medical Marijuana, Workers’ Compensation, and the CSA: Hazy Outlook for Employers As States Wrestle With Cannabis Reimbursement as a Reasonable Medical Expense

Medical Marijuana, Workers’ Compensation, and the CSA: Hazy Outlook for Employers As States Wrestle With Cannabis Reimbursement as a Reasonable Medical Expense
CANNANNEW REPORT

While each state has its own unique workers’ compensation program, workers’ compensation generally requires employers to reimburse the reasonable medical expenses of employees who are injured at work. Depending on the injury, these expenses can include hospital visits, follow-up appointments, physical therapy, surgeries, and medication, among other medical care. In recent years, medical cannabis has become increasingly common to treat a myriad of ailments—as of February 2022, 37 states, the District of Columbia, and three territories now allow the use of medical cannabis. While that is good news for patients seeking treatment for issues like chronic pain, medical cannabis laws can cause a major headache for employers. The federal law known as the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance, meaning that under federal law, it is not currently authorized for medical treatment anywhere in the United States and is not considered safe for use even under medical supervision. So, what happens when an employee is injured at work, is eligible for workers’ compensation, and is prescribed medical cannabis to treat their work-related injury in a state that authorizes medical cannabis? Employers are faced with a tricky dilemma: They can reimburse the employee’s medical cannabis as a reasonable medical expense and risk violating the federal prohibition against aiding and abetting the possession of cannabis. Or, they can refuse to reimburse the otherwise reasonable medical expense and risk violating the state’s workers’ compensation law. Usually, where it is impossible for an employer to comply with both state and federal law, federal law wins—a legal concept called conflict preemption. Unfortunately for employers, however, clarity on this issue will have to wait—the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined two requests to review state supreme court cases on this issue and definitively decide whether the CSA preempts state workers’ compensation laws that require reimbursement of medical…

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Source : Medical Marijuana, Workers’ Compensation, and the CSA: Hazy Outlook for Employers As States Wrestle With Cannabis Reimbursement as a Reasonable Medical Expense

reposted by Cannabis News World

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