Marijuana Laws and Workers’ Compensation

Host:

Oh, marijuana laws are a hot issue anywhere. But did you know that carries over into workers’ compensation? Makes sense, right? Well, Katherine Stone from Injury Florida Law is here to discuss the impact the laws are having and are not having, which again, I mean I know debate that we’ve been able to see on the show, it’s a whole new ball game we’re dealing with.

Katherine Stone:

It is a whole new ballgame. And as a practitioner who consistently has clients walking in the door, either new or current clients, inquiring and asking, “Well can I get a medical marijuana card because of the pain that I’m suffering from my worker’s comp accident?” And first and foremost, we always have to remember that in workers’ comp they do not have to pay for anything that your doctor has not recommended. So first you’ve got to have a prescription from a worker’s comp doctor, a doctor approved by workers’ comp. So that’s the first hurdle.

Host:

I know that’s a big deal in the first place. You can’t go to your own doctor.

Katherine Stone:

Correct. That’s the first hurdle. And so the second hurdle is right now, even though medical marijuana has been approved in the state of Florida, there is a specific statute that has excluded it under reimbursement within the State of Florida under workers comp. So it’s real important for people to understand that in workers’ compensation it is not a reimbursable benefit at this point. So even if a workers’ comp doctor were to write you a prescription and you went out and got it on your own, you couldn’t submit that prescription to worker’s comp and ask for reimbursement.

Katherine Stone:

Now I know that there are some cases because when I was preparing for today, I actually looked up some case law and there’s actually local Tampa judges that have denied reimbursement of this very same issue under the explanation that the law specifically does not allow for it.

Katherine Stone:

So I know that in Colorado, which is kind of the forefront of all of this, they now are tackling this issue of it becoming reimbursable and approvable under the workers’ comp system. So I think it’s only a matter of time before the State of Florida may follow suit. But as of right now, it’s important for people to know, it’s not to say that there may be some other cases in the pipeline, other attorneys maybe, again, trying to pursue the issue, get it up to the appellate court, get it up to the Florida Supreme Court, and those cases may still be out there. But the few cases that I looked at, the judges, especially here in the Tampa Bay area, are not allowing for reimbursement of it.

Host:

So you’re talking specific reimbursement. What about you are involved in an accident, you are on workers’ comp, you either go back to work or cannot go back to work and you’re paying for the medical marijuana out of your own pocket, are you still able to work for a company and it recognize the fact you’re on it if they have the drug free policy that we’ve talked about?

Katherine Stone:

That’s a whole separate issue.

Host:

I feel that there’s so many caveats.

Katherine Stone:

That is. So also underneath the law, no employer can be compelled to retain you as an employee or hire you as an employee if they know that you’re utilizing medical marijuana. So right now you are not what we call a protected class. And so on private property or any employer, the employers cannot be penalized also if they discharge you or terminate you because they determined that you are utilizing medical marijuana. So that’s a whole separate issue that does come up in the realm of workers’ comp, which if someone has an accident, they test positive, which we kind of talked about in the last segment, then that causes a whole other situation because the defense kind of has to prove that but for the use of the drug that you would not have had the accident.

Host:

Oh.

Katherine Stone:

So there’s a lot of different scenarios.

Host:

There is, and especially since more and more people are turning to medical marijuana now that it is recognized here in the State of Florida.

Katherine Stone:

There’s a lot of injuries in Florida that you know are pain-related.

Host:

And then there you go. Again, I don’t know about you, but I’m always learning from Katherine. So if you have any questions from her when it comes to workers’ comp or any other legal questions, she didn’t least direct you in the right area. There’s the information so you can get in touch with Injury Florida Law Firm today, Katherine and her team. We appreciate you as always.

INJURY FLORIDA LAW FIRM, P.A.
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