Medical Marijuana

A limited but growing number of states permit eligible patients to be reimbursed for their medical cannabis-related costs through their workers’ compensation insurance (WCI) plans, according to a just-published analysis of state policies conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said that these policy changes are further evidence of the legitimacy and social acceptance of medical cannabis. “For millions of patients, cannabis is a legitimate therapeutic option. More and more, our laws and regulations are recognizing this fact and evolving their policies accordingly.”

Researchers affiliated with the federal agency assessed rules and regulations in 36 states permitting medical cannabis access. They identified six states – Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York – that explicitly allow for employees to have their medical cannabis expenses reimbursed. In three of those states – New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York – reimbursements were ordered as a result of state Supreme Court rulings issued earlier this year.

By contrast, authors identified six states where workers’ compensation insurance is expressly prohibited from reimbursing medical marijuana-related costs: Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, and Washington.

In all other jurisdictions, the law is either silent on the issue or states that insurers are “not required” to reimburse employees who are injured on the job for the costs related to their use of medical cannabis.

Authors said that they expected the number of states permitting marijuana-related compensation to increase in the coming years “as more workers petition state courts and administrative agencies for cannabis WCI reimbursement.”

An abstract of the study, “Review of cannabis reimbursement by workers’ compensation insurance in the US and Canada,” appears in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

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