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Could Medical Marijuana Impact Workers’ Comp?

Medical marijuana is legal in Oklahoma, but individuals applying for workers’ compensation should understand how it could affect their claim.

In 2018, Oklahoma’s legislature legalized medical marijuana. Unlike other states, anyone who has a prescription from a physician can purchase and consume medical marijuana in any form. The law does not limit the use of medical marijuana to only certain conditions or certain forms, such as only allowing CBD oil. Still, while the law on medical marijuana is much less restrictive than it is in other states, there are potential issues for anyone applying for workers’ compensation who wants to use the drug. Individuals who use marijuana for a medical condition and wish to obtain workers’ compensation for a workplace injury should speak to an Oklahoma workers’ compensation lawyer right away.

Oklahoma Case Law

The issue of receiving workers’ compensation while using medical marijuana in Oklahoma has already been raised in December of 2018, shortly after legislators passed the law. Dillon Rose, an employee of Berry Plastics Corp., suffered from a crushed hand after his co-worker started a machine that Rose was attempting to repair.

Rose submitted to a blood test shortly after the accident and marijuana was found in his system. The workers’ compensation insurance company denied his claim, even though he stated that he was not impaired at the time of the accident, and his co-workers corroborated his story. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals ruled in favor of Rose, stating that the presence of marijuana in the blood does not automatically mean that a person is impaired because it remains in the system for so long.

Unfortunately, the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission reversed the ruling once again. The Commission stated that Rose’s testimony was ‘self-serving,’ and so, unreliable. Rose took the case back to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, but this time an administrative law judge found that the Commission had gone beyond its duty and upheld their decision.

Not many of these cases have been heard in Oklahoma courts yet, but this case could set a precedent for anyone who is injured at work and found to have marijuana in his or her system.

Medical Marijuana, Workers’ Comp, and Federal Law

Another issue that involves workers’ compensation and medical marijuana pertains to individuals who are already receiving workers’ comp benefits and want to use medical marijuana as part of their treatment plan.

Marijuana in any form is still illegal under federal law. As such, insurance companies across the country are often hesitant to provide benefits that pay for medical marijuana, or to refer an injured worker to a doctor who would prescribe medical marijuana. The fear on the part of the insurance companies is that this will be seen as distributing the drug, which could result in criminal penalties. Due to this, insurance companies are not likely to approve claims that involved medical marijuana.

Need Help with Your Claim? Call Our Oklahoma Workers’ Comp Lawyers

Although medical marijuana is legal in Oklahoma, this drug can still greatly impact a workers’ compensation claim. If you use medical marijuana, or think you may want to explore the option after a workplace accident, call our Oklahoma City workers’ comp lawyers at the Law Firm of BDIW Law. We can advise on all aspects of your claim, help you through the process, and give your case the best chance of success. Call us today at (405) 886-9660 for your free consultation.

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