In California, Labor Code section 4600 provides that medical treatment must be provided in workers’ compensation cases if it, “is reasonably required to cure or relieve the injured worker from the effects of his or her injury.” That treatment, “shall be provided by the employer.” There has been no case law yet holding that employers must provide marijuana as reasonable treatment for injured workers. However, the winds of change seem to be on the horizon.
In New Mexico the state has proposed new rules that would require employers to reimburse the applicant for up to eight ounces of marijuana every three months. It has established the cost of marijuana at $12.02 per gram according to their fee schedule. That would also limit an employer’s liability to $10,904.54 per year. The rules are not yet final, but three Court of Appeals decisions in New Mexico have found marijuana to be reasonable treatment over the last few years. Therefore the legislature is moving forward to establish the framework with which to deal with marijuana usage and costs.
In California, the legislature recently sent three bills to the governor’s desk for approval. Those bills would establish a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, authorize the state to use licensing fees to carry out the new regulations, and enforce regulations against marijuana clinics and also create relevant pesticide standards. There are also several groups which are moving forward on crafting ballot initiatives for the November 2016 ballot that would legalize marijuana use. There is no consensus between the groups, or how far the initiatives should reach. But they are all working to the same general goal.
With other states finding marijuana usage reasonable and establishing fee schedules for reimbursement, and with California establishing regulatory bodies to govern marijuana and with ballot initiatives on the horizon, how long will be it before marijuana is considered reasonable in workers’ compensation cases? I think the safe money would be on guessing how many months it will be rather than how many years it will be. The ballot initiative election is still a year away, but the groundwork seems to be underway to prepare.
If you have questions about treatment for your workers' compensation injury and want to talk to an attorney in Fresno, please call 559-408-7436 or fill out the form to the right.
The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the Law Offices of Jeremy K. Lusk, Inc. and the reader.