Should workers' comp cover medical marijuana? – PropertyCasualty360

“Some states have standards for identifying marijuana impairment on the job. However, those standards differ from state to state,” says Laura Kersey, NCCI’s executive director, regulatory & legislative analysis. (Credit: Africa Studio/Adobe Stock)

With the majority of states now having some form of medical marijuana laws on the books and 19 allowing recreational adult use, questions remain on how workers’ compensation systems should address the myriad of arising issues.

As seen recently in Pennsylvania, courts are grappling with the query of whether workers’ compensation should cover medical marijuana costs, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). In the Keystone State case, the court ruled yes and ordered the injured worker to be reimbursed for previous medical marijuana costs and have future costs covered.

Similarly, supreme courts in New Jersey and New Hampshire ruled reimbursement is allowed for medical marijuana costs associated with workers’ compensation treatment, according to NCCI’s analysis of key developments regarding marijuana and workers’ comp.  Additionally, a New York appellate court ruled reimbursement is required under the state’s medical marijuana law.

However, courts in Massachusetts and Arkansas found that workers’ comp systems should not be required to cover medical marijuana costs.

While a Pennsylvania judge did rule workers’ compensation could cover medical marijuana costs, a verdict that is an outlier among similar cases in the state, there is a bill pending in the state legislature that would change its laws to say workers’ comp insurers are not required to provide coverage, or reimbursement, for medical marijuana costs. Kentucky considered similar legislation, but it did not pass, while Alabama enacted a law that frees employers, property & casualty insurers and private health insurers from having to cover costs associated with medical cannabis use, NCCI reports.

Are you high?

Another big question roiling workers’ comp markets is determining

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