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Connection Between Medical Marijuana and Worker's Compensation

Word cloud for Workers' compensationMedical marijuana has been one of the most debated topics for many years. With recent laws passing in Colorado legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana, it has opened the door to many discussions about medical marijuana and worker’s compensation insurance.

As of now, the state supreme courts of Colorado and New Mexico are the only two courts that are looking at questions about marijuana in the workplace and worker’s compensation. The courts are looking at potential worker’s compensation cases that may lead to insurance companies being asked to pay for medical marijuana, which is considered illegal by the federal government.

The National Council for Compensation Insurance, or NCCI, is reporting that they are already starting to receive requests to cover the costs for medical marijuana. The NCCI is taking special interest in two cases in New Mexico and Colorado that center around medical marijuana in the workplace. In Colorado, an injured employee of Dish Network LLC was terminated after using medical marijuana while he was off-duty. Although a judge upheld the termination since marijuana is federally illegal, the Colorado Supreme Court has recently granted a review for the case.

In New Mexico, the NCCI is looking at a case that is thought to be the first in which a judge ordered an insurance carrier to reimburse a worker’s compensation claimant for the cost of the medical marijuana that they were using to help treat back pain.

California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, which was later followed by 23 different jurisdictions and the District of Columbia. However, the use of marijuana, even as a medical drug, is still federally illegal.

For more information on how changing marijuana laws may affect your worker’s compensation insurance, contact McCarty Insurance Agency in Fresno, California.

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