According to Denise Johnson of Claims Journal, medical marijuana is slowly making headway in the workers’ compensation field, even though federal and state governments have not yet agreed on legalization. Johnson discussed medical marijuana reimbursement for workers’ compensation claims as well as the federal government’s stance with Brian Allen, Vice President of Government Affairs for Mitchell, as well as Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of PRIUM.
Pew stated that, “most of the states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana either in medical or recreational form, while several more are considering marijuana proposals.”
Some states have seen exemptions to health insurers who pay for the treatment, some self-insured employers’ cases have been heard, some states have remained silent regarding payment, etc., according to Allen.
However, we do know multiple states’ stances that have been highlighted in this article. They are as follows:
States allowing workers’ compensation medical marijuana coverage:
Minnesota – Since 2015
States with decisions still pending:
(According to Allen, “it’s likely Courts will rule in favor of the plaintiff, since it’s clear that doctors could document medical improvement.”)
States with laws stating that an employer or workers’ comp carrier is not required to pay for medical marijuana treatment:
States where payment of medical marijuana treatment has been publicly documented:
We will also note that marijuana is a $1.2 billion business in the state of Colorado!
What we do know is that decisions are being made based on individual patients benefiting from the treatment, it is a viable alternative to opioids, as well as the likelihood of medical marijuana being cheaper than other forms of treatment.
According to Johnson, the federal government, more specifically the Department of Justice, released a statement at the beginning of the year, “indicating that marijuana enforcement would be at the discretion of local assistant U.S. Attorneys. Because they are political appointees, Allen doesn’t see them going against popular opinion. It’s unlikely they would pursue a medical marijuana case, unless there was some ‘egregious abuse.’”
We will continue to monitor the progress.