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Medical Marijuana Remains Tricky Workers’ Compensation Issue

Medical Marijuana Remains Tricky Workers’ Compensation Issue

As more and more states recognize the medical value of marijuana in treating a variety of physical symptoms, especially pain, workers’ compensation boards struggle to keep up with the changing times.

A labor appeals board in New Hampshire determined that worker’s compensation in the state could not reimburse an employee for the cost of medical marijuana, but the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that the decision was incorrect.

In the New Hampshire case, a man hurt his back at work and was approved by the state’s health department to begin using marijuana to treat his ongoing pain. He sought to have the cost of the marijuana reimbursed by the workers’ compensation board, but the board determined such pain therapy through marijuana was not necessary.

However, the New Hampshire Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the case, just that the board did not adequately articulate how the existing law enabled them to reject the employee’s reimbursement. So, we will wait and see whether that state’s law actually says it is illegal for workers’ compensation to deny reimbursement and whether additional changes to the law will develop as a result.