The legalization of marijuana in many areas is creating some trouble for workers’ compensation. There are questions about whether the program will pay for the treatment with medical marijuana or if they will cover claims when an employee tests positive for marijuana legally consumed.
The situation can be quite complicated. Business Insurance explains there is a struggle within the system to figure out how to handle marijuana in these changing times.
One way some states are approaching the issue is to create new laws. For example, in Alabama, the legislature made workers’ compensation insurers not liable to reimburse for medical marijuana. However, other states, such as New Jersey, are going the other way and making insurers cover medical prescriptions for the drug.
Positive tests for marijuana are a slightly different situation. Many states continue to hold a positive test as a way for insurers to deny claims. Some even have laws, but there is a movement to allow an exception when a person has a medical marijuana prescription. Even states where recreational marijuana is legal may still not allow a positive test for a workers’ compensation case.
Part of the reason why it is so confusing as to how to handle marijuana under workers’ compensation is that the drug remains illegal for all uses at the federal level. States have to make rulings in contradiction to federal law, which can create questionable situations for insurers.
Another issue is regardless of the reason for use, using marijuana with high THC levels will alter a person’s ability to safely do his or her work. It is comparable to alcohol. While alcohol is legal, if you test positive for it after a work accident, workers’ compensation is not going to approve your claim.