A limited but growing number of states allow eligible patients to be reimbursed for their medical cannabis-related costs through their Workers’ Compensation Insurance (WCI) plans, according to a recently released analysis of the policies of the State conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
NORML deputy director Paul Armentano said these policy changes are further proof of the legitimacy and social acceptance of medical cannabis. “For millions of patients, cannabis is a legitimate treatment option. Increasingly, our laws and regulations recognize this fact and evolve their policies accordingly. “
Researchers affiliated with the federal agency evaluated the rules and regulations of 36 states allowing access to medical cannabis. They identified six states – Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York – that explicitly allow employees to be reimbursed for their medical cannabis expenses. In three of those states – New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York – refunds were ordered following state Supreme Court rulings earlier this year.
In contrast, the authors identified six states where workers’ compensation insurance is expressly prohibited from reimbursing medical marijuana-related costs: Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, and Washington.
In all other jurisdictions, the law is either silent on the issue or states that insurers are “not required” to reimburse employees who are injured on the job for the costs associated with their use of medical cannabis.
The authors said they expected the number of states allowing marijuana-related compensation to increase in the coming years “as more and more workers petition state courts and administrative agencies reimbursement of WCI cannabis ”.
A summary of the study, “Review of Cannabis Reimbursement by Workers’ Compensation Insurance in the United States and Canada,” appears in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.