Now that medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, you might be wondering if you can use it as treatment for your work injury, and if so, will workers' compensation pay for it. Medical marijuana provides an opportunity for meaningful pain relief from chronic work injuries, and the chance to reduce or eliminate the use of narcotics.
The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act does not require insurers (including workers' compensation carriers) to directly pay for medical marijuana treatment. However, the question of whether injured workers can be reimbursed for the out-of-pocket cost of medical marijuana treatment remains to be answered. Courts in New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Connecticut and Minnesota have directed reimbursement in certain cases. If you use or are considering the use of medical marijuana for an accepted work injury, please contact me to discuss pursuing reimbursement of your out-of-pocket costs.
In May 2019 I was able to convince a carrier to reach a settlement of an MMJ case and pay my client for the anticipated cost of medical marijuana expenses for the rest of his life as a lump sum. My client had been severely addicted to opiates due to multiple neck surgeries. He is now off opiates for two years thanks to his use of MMJ. MMJ provides him better pain relief and he no longer needs to use a cane. His mental health is also dramatically improved, and previously abnormal bloodwork has normalized.
In August 2019 I settled an open workers' comp claim for a lump sum plus reimbursement to my client of her out-of-pocket MMJ costs. She turned to MMJ to treat her low back injury (an aggravation of a prior injury) after finding injections and therapy to be of minimal benefit. She is now ready to move on from workers' comp and able to work due to treatment with MMJ.
March 20, 2020: Pennsylvania Bar Institute: Speaker at 2020 Medical Marijuana and Hemp Law Symposium, Philadelphia
March 6, 2020: Pennsylvania Defense Institute (PDI), Camp Hill, PA: Panelist. Advanced Workers' Compensation Seminar: Marijuana in the Workplace: Recreational & Medicinal
February 24, 2020, 12 noon: WWDB Radio Broadcast (Philadelphia) Pain & Wellness Hour: Medical Marijuana and Workers Compensation (with Hal Banks, Esq)
December 12, 2019: Northeast PA Trial Lawyers Association (Scranton, PA): Personal Injury Potpourri: Medical Marijuana and Workers Compensation: Will Comp Pay
October 29, 2019: Pennsylvania Self-Insurers Association Legislative Meeting (Harrisburg, PA): Handling Medical Marijuana and Workers' Comp Claims with Ted Carpenter. Esq.
May 9, 2019: Montgomery Bar Association (Montgomery County): Medical Marijuana and Workers' Compensation: A Hike in the Weeds of Comp
February 22, 2019: Philadelphia Bar Association, Workers' Compensation Section: Medical Marijuana and Workers' Comp: Sticky Situations
December 20, 2018: Philadelphia Bar Association: Hemp and Medical Marijuana Subcommittee, Business Law Section: The Blunt Impact: Effects of Medical Marijuana on Workers' Comp and Employment Claims (with Joshua Horn, Esq and Justin Moriconi, Esq)
December 11, 2018: Bucks County Bar Association: Medical Marijuana and Workers' Comp. I also filmed a separate on-demand CLE for the Bucks County Bar Association which is available on-line.
October 4, 2018: 2018 PA Workers' Compensation Section Annual Meeting, Hershey PA: Workers' Compensation and Medical Marijuana (with Jean Novak, Esquire)
June 8, 2018: 17th Annual Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers' Compensation Conference: Workers' Compensation: Medical Marijuana and Workers' Compensation: Legal/HR (Panelist)
I have served as the Workers' Compensation Chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association's Business Law Section Hemp and Medical Marijuana Committee since its inception in 2018. I am also a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Hemp and Medical Marijuana Committee.