Court Rules Employers Can Reimburse Workers for Medical Marijuana Without Violating Federal Law (Business Insurance)

Court Rules Employers Can Reimburse Workers for Medical Marijuana Without Violating Federal Law

Friday, April 26th, 2024 Legislation & Regulation Liability Life & Health Workers' Compensation

In a landmark decision, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has overturned a previous ruling that suggested employers reimbursing workers for medical marijuana would violate federal laws. The case involved an employee who sustained injuries from a work-related accident with Aussie Pet Mobile Bux-Mont, leading to chronic pain and subsequent treatment including medical marijuana, which is legal in Pennsylvania.

Initially, while the employer accepted liability for the injury and paid for the claimant’s ketamine treatments, they were advised against covering medical marijuana costs due to perceived federal legal risks. However, this decision was challenged in court, leading to a pivotal reversal by the appellate court. The court cited precedents asserting that reimbursing an employee for legally purchased medical marijuana does not equate to the employer engaging in the manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance, thus not violating the Federal Drug Act.

This ruling not only impacts the claimant’s compensation but also sets a significant precedent for the handling of similar cases in Pennsylvania. It underscores the evolving legal landscape surrounding medical marijuana use and workers’ compensation laws. The case has been remanded back to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board for further proceedings, which could potentially influence broader policy changes regarding workplace injury treatments and employer liabilities.

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