Supreme Court Denies Reimbursement For Medical Marijuana in Workers’ Comp Cases

medical marijuana

Earlier this summer, the U.S. The Supreme Court denied petitions brought by injured Minnesota workers whose intent was to be reimbursed by workers’ compensation for medical marijuana, according to the National Law Review.

In order to circumvent an earlier decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which concluded that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) preempted Minnesota law—and therefore denied reimbursement of medical marijuana, the two petitioners requested that the Supreme Court hear their case.

Supreme Court Inconsistent Ruling On Medical Marijuana

The Supreme Court, which has been inconsistent in this matter with other states, invited the U.S. Department of Justice to essentially make the decision for the Court. The Department of Justice, whose stance on marijuana has resulted in hundreds of thousands of cannabis possession charges over the years, agreed with the Minnesota Supreme Court: that the CSA preempts state law. Therefore, the Supreme Court refused to even hear the injured Minnesota workers’ case.

But Other States Have Been Successful

In 2014, the New Mexico Court of Appeals found that reimbursement of medical marijuana did not preempt the CSA. As such, medical marijuana is now available for injured workers who are in pain and need relief. As long as the use of medical marijuana is “reasonable and necessary care,” injured workers can submit workers’ compensation claims for reimbursement.

California, New York, New Hampshire, and New Jersey have also been successful, and have authorized workers’ compensation reimbursement for medical marijuana to injured workers. Unfortunately, Minnesota now joins states such as Maine and Massachusetts, which have, so far, failed to authorize medical marijuana reimbursements.

The Argument for Medical Marijuana

Marijuana has been used for centuries (dating back to 2800 B.C.) to treat various ailments. But when it became classified as a Class I controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970—alongside cocaine and heroin—marijuana became tarnished as an addictive, dangerous, gateway drug.

While THC—the psychoactive chemical in marijuana—can significantly alter a person’s cognitive state, many people find benefits to using marijuana to control pain, nausea, and appetite loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, medical marijuana is often used by patients with the following diagnoses:

  • Severe and chronic pain
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis and muscle spasms
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Muscle spasms
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Glaucoma
  • Wasting syndrome
  • Anorexia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, and other side effects of cancer treatments

Marijuana has proven to help treat various illnesses by reducing anxiety, decreasing inflammation, relieving pain, reducing nausea, and relaxing muscles. It can also stimulate appetite for those struggling with eating disorders, and those being treated for AIDS and cancer. There is some evidence that marijuana can help kill cancer growth, thereby slowing the growth of tumors.

Medical Marijuana as an Alternative to Opioids

The most common use of medical marijuana is to treat chronic pain—pain that has persisted for more than 12 weeks. More than 76,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2021, according to the CDC—an increase of 20,000 from the previous year.

Many of the people who overdose on opioids (which include hydrocodone, oxycontin, fentanyl, and heroin) were originally prescribed an opioid painkiller to manage their acute or even chronic pain. Hundreds of thousands of Americans end up becoming addicted every year. Medical marijuana stands as a relatively safe alternative to opioid painkillers because it is not physically addictive and it is not possible to overdose on it.

Seeking Relief Through Workers’ Compensation

Injured workers have the right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits by informing their employer about their injury or illness, contacting an attorney, and filing a workers’ compensation claim, seeking benefits through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Benefits include partial wage replacement while you are off the job, medical treatment for your injury or illness, transportation expenses to and from your treating physician, permanent partial disability, and vocational training if you cannot return to work.

Why You Need to Work With A Workers’ Compensation Attorney

An experienced Wisconsin workers’ comp lawyer will not only assist with filing the actual workers’ comp claim appeal, but they will provide invaluable legal service aimed at receiving the highest amount of wage compensation and medical care. This is accomplished by:

  • Gathering Documents and Medical Evidence—Medical evaluations are the number one way to prove the severity of an injury. All pertinent medical documents must be filed with the claim.
  • Negotiating Settlement Agreements—Your employer/insurance carrier is likely to attempt to limit or fully withhold benefits in order to save money. A lawyer provides the negotiating power needed to receive fair treatment and full workers’ comp benefits.
  • Representing You in a Court Hearing—If no settlement agreement is reached, the case will be resolved in court. You need an attorney who has experience arguing before the court, and who will do everything in their power to ensure success for you and your family.
  • Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit if Applicable—In some cases, you may be able to seek additional damages that extend beyond workers’ comp benefits. A personal injury claim would allow you to recover damages relating to pain and suffering, full lost wages, emotional distress, and more.

Call a Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today For Help

If your workers’ comp claim was denied, or your benefits were reduced or revoked by your employer without your consent, you need to contact a Wisconsin workers’ comp lawyer. We can help you get the financial aid and medical treatment that you are fully entitled to.

Your employer or a faceless insurance adjuster should not have the final say in your health or well-being. Do not hesitate to call Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf at 414-257-2667 to schedule a free consultation today. We stop at nothing to ensure that our clients are awarded the benefits they deserve.

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