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WC and Medical Marijuana

The marijuana landscape is changing in America, and as more states adopt medical marijuana laws, the higher the likelihood that states’ workers’ compensation laws will have to change. States are utilizing a variety of ways to address use of the drug, and it seems clear that workers’ compensation will eventually have to pay for medical marijuana in the near future.

There are some states already where workers’ compensation carriers are required to reimburse medical marijuana users, and many companies administer reimbursement directly rather than use third-parties.

New Mexico requires workers’ compensation to reimburse patients who use marijuana for pain management, and they added it to their fee schedules. New York and New Jersey require employers to reimburse medical marijuana use for any compensable condition.

But most people agree that users shouldn’t just be able to walk into a dispensary, obtain marijuana, and submit a receipt for reimbursement. Carriers need to know what the patient is receiving and what the dosages are.

However, since the federal government still considers marijuana to be an illegal drug, clinical guidelines for use and dosing are limited to non-existent. That is regardless of the fact that allowing patients to use marijuana instead of other pain methods has reduced the use of opioids, muscle relaxants, sleep medications, and anti-inflammatories.