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Medical Marijuana Causes Workers’ Comp Debate

Medical Marijuana Causes Workers’ Comp DebateThe recent integration of marijuana in the medical treatment market has posed some challenges for Workers’ Compensation coverage. Companies who strive to be in compliance with the laws have struggled to define what is appropriate for treatment and coverage in their employee benefits packages. Consider the following perspectives to for your clients’ PA Workers’ Compensation liability.

While marijuana is illegal under federal law, state law deems it as not an “illegal substance.” However, medical marijuana has been a useful tool for pain management for several years and can prove to be an alternative to opioid use. Tom Atchison, associate attorney at Heacox, Hartman, Koshmrl, Cosgriff & Johnsons P.A. stated “Any treatment that could reduce opioid dependency is something to look into, or something to keep an eye on.”

Although twenty two states and the District of Columbia have implemented the use of medical marijuana for injured workers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved its use for any medical condition. This means that there are no documented statistics on its effects in comparison to opioids. While it is a widespread expert opinion that long term opioid use has negative effects and should be avoided, some still find marijuana hard to endorse.

Dr. Damon Raskin, a substance and addition abuse specialists of California clarified “Until I see good scientific evidence that this is something that works, it’s going to be hard to endorse. But if there’s a choice between opiates vs. medical marijuana, I will still pick medical marijuana if that helps the patient’s pain…if we can do anything except for opiates for pain, that’s ideal.”

Raskin also cites the risk of death and severe addiction issues as a huge downfall for long term opiate use, further promoting marijuana. For the third time this year, recent litigation in New Mexico has ruled in favor of an injured worker claiming that Workers’ Comp should cover medical marijuana supply. In each case, opioids were ineffective in treating chronic pain, leading the worker to use medical marijuana. What’s more, the most recent plaintiff’s health care provider declared that the “benefits of medical marijuana outweigh the risk of hyper doses of narcotic medications.”

At Associated Specialty Insurance Agency (ASIA), we understand the implications of medical marijuana as it relates to Workers’ Compensation benefits. For the past 20 years, we have specialized in offering customizable Workers’ Compensation coverage to meet your clients’ needs throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. To learn more about out offerings, contact us today at (866) 679-7457.

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