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Medical MarijuanaWorkers Compensation

Administrative Law Judge Says Work Comp Must Pay for Medical Marijuana

New Jersey has allowed medical marijuana for more than seven years, with the sale of the drug permitted in January, 2010. However, even though the drug is considered legal in the state, many employers have refused to reimburse injured workers for the costs of the drug. A decision last month by an administrative law judge may make it more difficult for employers to refuse to reimburse such costs in the future.

In the case before the administrative law judge, the injured party had been prescribed state-sanctioned medical marijuana after hurting his hand while working at a lumber company. He initially purchased the prescription drug, but stopped doing so when his employer refused to cover the costs. He opted, instead, to use prescription opiates, such as Percocet, to manage his pain. He ultimately sought a ruling from the administrative law judge that he be reimbursed for the costs of medical marijuana he had already purchased, and that the judge rule that future purchases of prescribed medical marijuana be covered under his workers’ compensation benefits.

After hearing all the evidence, the judge concluded that the expense of the medical marijuana should have been reimbursed, as it was based a prescription that was within the boundaries of the laws of New Jersey. Finding that the medical marijuana was not “as debilitating” as the Percocet and other opiates the injured man had resorted to, and that his use of the medical marijuana had been successful, the administrative law judge also ordered the workers’ compensation insurer to pay for any future prescriptions for state-sanctioned medical marijuana.

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