Judge Rules for Cannabis in Workers Comp Insurance Case

By Cheryl Smith

Oregon Cannabis Connection


In December 2016 an administrative law judge in New Jersey ruled that an injured man’s workers compensation insurance must pay for his medical cannabis. The judge relied in his ruling on the fact that pharmacy records showed that he was able to reduce the amount of Percocet he had to use to control the pain caused by his wrist injury and was less debilitated from it.

“As a result of his improved pain management, he has achieved a greater level of functionality,” according to the Administrative Law Judge Ingrid L French. She also said that “his approach to his pain management needs (is) cautious, mature and overall he is exceptionally conscientious in managing his pain.”

While acknowledging the controversy around medical marijuana (with fewer than 500 patients having signed up in New Jersey so far) she noted that because it is legal in a state a decision to prescribe it is medical in nature and “within the boundaries of the laws of the state.”

This is the second case in which a medical marijuana patient had won in a workers compensation case. The other one was in New Mexico.

The ruling is not expected to broaden the law in any way or to have a big effect on employers, because patients must have specific qualifying conditions to get a card and most would be unlikely to also have a workers comp claim. and the state’s restrictive medical marijuana program. No appeal is anticipated because it would raise complicated issues between the state and federal government and, therefore, be expensive to litigate.

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