As medical cannabis ratification picks up steam practically every election cycle, taking steps to become legal throughout the entire United States, employers are having to figure out how to work with their workers’ compensation insurance providers when it comes to injury claims.
In Oklahoma, for example, a court ruling that permits an injured worker to receive workers’ compensation benefits with a positive drug test caused a stir. The court ruling stated that the presence of an “intoxicating substance in the blood does not automatically mean that person is intoxicated.”
Laws related to cannabis, be it medical or recreational, vary from state to state, bringing up questions about how medical cannabis applies to workers’ compensation insurance claims. While business owners want to stay compliant, they also want to make sure they’re doing right by their operations.
Legalized Cannabis in the U.S.
So far, nearly half the country’s states, as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized cannabis for medicinal use. Ten states in the U.S., including Washington, Illinois, and Colorado, have legalized cannabis for everyday recreational use. State laws vary widely and some allow certain amounts and sizes to be in possession. But cannabis still remains a Schedule I drug under the Federal Controlled Substance Act, making it illegal under federal law.
Prescriptions for Employees for Medical Cannabis
A prescription for medical cannabis can be written by a licensed provider with privileges to dispensaries. Cannabis dispensing differs from pharmaceutical dispensing in that it is obtained solely at a dispensary and not a pharmacy. Many of these dispensaries do not have the knowledge available to provide sound medical advice to patients, especially when it comes to using medicinal cannabis with other drug interactions.
Employers who deal with medical cannabis in their workers’ compensation claims can pose a good deal of questions as confusion on what to do may be significant. The most frequently asked question is determining whether or not an injury is compensable after an accident test shows cannabis use, like in Oklahoma.
In some states, if intoxication by use of a controlled substance, including medical cannabis, is the main cause of an employee’s injury on-site, they the workers’ compensation benefits can be cut down by as much as 15 percent. This is on the employer to establish not only the proven fact of intoxication but its relation to injury or accident in question. Employers of all sizes and in all industries should in the least look into their state’s outlook on medical cannabis use and its impact on workers’ compensation insurance. This will help determine what their responsibilities are when it comes to coverage of medical cannabis treatment.
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