In recent years, medical marijuana is enjoying unprecedented popularity and acceptance in our country. Twenty nine states have legalized medical marijuana in one form or another. Even Ohio has recently accepted medical marijuana as an option for certain patients.
The problem with this new-found legal acceptance of medical marijuana involves the workers' compensation system. The question that so many people are asking is: Will workers' compensation cover my medical marijuana prescriptions for work-related injuries?
Medical Marijuana in Ohio
According to Cleveland.com, Ohio is now a place where medical marijuana is now legal, but it will take some time before the day to day reality for those in need of the treatment is any different. Dispensaries are not open yet and most medical marijuana patients are having trouble finding doctors who will sign off on the treatment.
Further complicating the matter is workers' compensation. Two articles in NCCI - The Marijuana Conversation: Marijuana Conversation: Questions Workers Compensation Insurers Are Asking - explore the role that workers' compensation will have in covering medical marijuana for injured workers.
As most people know, workers' compensation is an insurance schema in which most employees re provided insurance coverage for injuries sustained in work-related accidents.
However, it is unclear whether workers' compensation will be required to cover the costs of medical marijuana treatment. Of course, for insurance carriers, this is ideal since they will not have to pay for certain treatments. But for injured workers who need medical marijuana after an injury, this is a required medical service that should be covered by the workers' compensation program.
The people who suffer the worst from the refusal of workers' comp to pay for medical marijuana would be the people wanting to avoid opioid addictions. Currently, opioids are commonly prescribed for treatment of chronic pain. However, it is becoming common knowledge that opioids are extremely habit forming and many people suffer severe addiction to the treatment.
What Are the Answers?
At this point, unfortunately, there are no definitive answers. The legal paradigm, the insurance providers and the medical community have to catch up to the reality of increased use of medical marijuana. If this is a legal form of treatment, accepted by the medical community for certain purposes, it should be covered by workers' compensation if the cause results from a work-related incidence.
We will keep our eyes on the progress of medical marijuana in Ohio relative to the workers' compensation program. Hopefully, before long any legal medical remedy will be covered for injured workers.