Survey compares marijuana laws in state workers' comp systems
The International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions has asked states to respond to questions regarding their regulation of marijuana in workers' comp claims. The survey was prompted by a request from IAIABC members following the increasing adoption of laws that allow marijuana, and voters' approval of recreational marijuana in a couple of states.
"I think it is raising some very interesting questions," said Jennifer Wolf-Horejsh, IAIABC's executive director."Members wanted to see how states were dealing with marijuana and specifically the issue of medical marijuana and whether or not it would be covered as a prescription and be paid for by insurers."
For example, she said if marijuana is legal for medical use, how does that impact return to work? Also, since marijuana stays in a person's system for several days, what does that mean in a situation where a worker tests positive for the drug following a work-related accident that occurs days after the drug was used, especially in a state with a drug and alcohol presumption law that denies benefits to injured workers who test positive?
"The survey was the first attempt to get a read on how states are dealing with this," Wolf-Horejsh said. "I think we are really seeing a shift in marijuana use."
Among the findings are that some states that have legalized marijuana for medical reasons -- such as Montana and Vermont -- have specifically disallowed it in their workers' comp systems. Other states, such as New Mexico, require a patient registry identification card, supervision and monitoring, and caregiver and practitioner licensing in the workers' comp system.
The survey also includes information about legal disputes surrounding the use of medical marijuana among injured workers. The association will watch the unfolding of case law.
"It takes a few years for disputes to happen and go through the process," Wolf-Horejsh said. "It will be interesting to watch this play out."
Wolf-Horejsh said the IAIABC will continue to follow and update the issue. "As the trend is toward legalization states are going to have to grapple with it."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
January 14, 2013
Copyright 2013© LRP Publications