If you have been hurt on the job and have been prescribed medical marijuana, you should know about some obstacles you may face.
Although Florida has not yet legalized recreational marijuana, the state has allowed the use of medical marijuana. This is good news for individuals that are suffering from chronic pain, undergoing cancer treatments, or dealing with other conditions that medical marijuana can treat. While a prescription for medical marijuana may seem like the right answer in the short-term, though, individuals may find they run into trouble if they want to file a workers’ compensation claim. As it stands now, insurance companies are more likely to deny these claims than approve them.
Workers’ compensation law does allow for alternate medical care when an individual needs it after being injured at work. This means that insurance companies offering workers’ compensation cannot refuse treatment or medication simply because it is not the traditional treatment used. In the past, many injured workers have used this as reason to appeal denied workers’ compensation claims. In the future, many more may try to use those same grounds for appeal when insurance companies deny a claim involving medical marijuana.
Florida has not yet seen a significant number of workers’ compensation claims, or denials, involving medical marijuana. However, as medical marijuana use becomes more prevalent in the state, there is little doubt that it is going to become more and more of an issue as to whether or not medical marijuana is reasonable treatment.
Truthfully, it is unlikely that medical marijuana will be deemed as reasonable treatment under workers’ compensation any time soon. That is, at least until marijuana is legal under federal law. This is because the legality of a treatment will always override the necessity of it.
Under federal law, it is illegal to sell or distribute medical marijuana. In the few cases across the country that have involved medical marijuana and workers’ compensation claims, the insurers have stated that approving a claim would be considered distribution of the drug. Approving such a claim could even be seen by some as ordering an injured worker to take part in illegal activities. As such, insurance companies could be charged with a crime for prescribing the drug.
In the few workers’ compensation claims that have garnered national attention, the claimants have stated that it is highly unlikely that an insurance company would face prosecution for approving the use of medical marijuana. While that is likely true, insurance companies are hesitant to take that chance. So far, the courts have agreed with them and have upheld the decision to deny the claim.
Medical marijuana is just one factor that can complicate your workers’ compensation claim. There are many other reasons an insurer may try to deny your claim, even when you have a legal right to compensation. If you have been hurt on the job, you need the help of our Tampa Bay workers’ compensation lawyers. At Rooth Law Firm, we can advise on what you may be eligible for, and hold insurance companies accountable for providing the coverage you need. Call us today at (727) 849-3400 or contact us online for a free initial consultation so we can review your claim.