April 15, 2023

Marijuana Reimbursement Initiatives See Signs of Life

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear recently signed Senate Bill 47 into law, making Kentucky the 38th state to legalize medical marijuana in the U.S.

It may only be a matter of time until the entire nation embraces medical marijuana, and recreational marijuana is not far behind with 21 states. Over the last decade, there have been small increments of progress for marijuana legalization.

At this time, six states require insurers to reimburse medical marijuana use in workers’ comp, a number that came after years of back-and-forth debate in each of those states. And now, three more states are currently considering marijuana reimbursement in workers’ comp.

Massachusetts House Bill 1949 was introduced in February, which would require health insurance providers to reimburse individuals for the reasonable and necessary expenses of medical cannabis provided to injured employees who are qualifying medical marijuana patients, or their personal caregiver, certified by a healthcare professional.

This bill now sits with the Labor and Workforce Development Committee,

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently overturned two previous decisions made by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appel Board which denied medical marijuana reimbursement.

The cases were Fegley v. Firestone Tire & Rubber and Appel vs. GWC Warranty Corp. In both cases, the courts were split, with some arguing that insurers should not have to pay controlled substances, citing federal regulations. But now, due to the Commonwealth Court’s ruling, insurers may be liable for marijuana reimbursement.

It is possible these cases could continue to be appealed, even up to the state Supreme Court, but at this time they currently hold precedence.

And finally, Louisiana House Bill 351 was recently introduced, and if passed would require the reimbursement for medical marijuana for qualifying medical marijuana patients in workers’ comp.

The bill’s text defines a qualifying medical marijuana patient as an individual who has been clinically diagnosed as suffering from a debilitating medical condition and an authorized clinician has recommended marijuana for therapeutic use. This bill is now sitting in committee.

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