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How Will Medical Marijuana Use Affect A Workers’ Comp Claim?

One of the biggest topics of debate is the law surrounding medical marijuana use in Florida. While recreational marijuana use remains illegal in Florida on the federal and state level, it is one of the states that also recognize the health benefits of marijuana.

Therefore, the Florida legislature passed and signed into law an update to a statute enacted in 2017 that legalized medical marijuana in the form of oils and baked goods.

Many Floridians have taken advantage of medical marijuana. It has been found that there are at least 3,000 new patients per week signing up for medical marijuana in the state of Florida, and more than 180,000 statewide have been registered to date.

Medical Marijuana And Workers’ Compensation

Even though medical marijuana use is legal in the state of Florida, some people may run into issues if they find that they need to file a workers’ compensation claim. Insurance companies are far more likely to deny those claims instead of approving them.

Reasonable Treatment Laws

Under workers’ compensation law, alternate medical care for injured people is allowed. This means that the insurance company cannot refuse treatment or medication needed just because it is a nontraditional treatment. As medical marijuana becomes more prevalent in the state, more issues may arise when it comes to whether or not it can be used as a reasonable treatment.

Federal Law

Since it is still illegal under federal law to sell or distribute marijuana, there are few cases in the country where you will find that medical marijuana was offered as a treatment under a workers’ compensation claim. It has even been said that if an insurance company were to approve this kind of treatment, it could be seen as taking part in illegal activities—however, this is highly unlikely.

Companies And Medical Marijuana Use

For many companies, marijuana remains on the list of drugs you cannot take, even if it is legally prescribed to you. Even when a company understands the reason behind using medical marijuana, it may still take a more conservative approach.

If an employee becomes injured on the job and tests positive for marijuana, the employer could be vulnerable to damages. The law in Florida needs to be amended to create a course of action for marijuana discrimination.

Unchartered Waters And The Burden Of Proof

As you can see, many questions are circulating when it comes to Florida law, medical marijuana use, and workers’ compensation insurance. Another tricky aspect that comes into play when discussing medical marijuana use and workers’ compensation claims is the burden of proof.

How can an employer determine that the employee was under the influence at work when they were involved in the accident? As states continue to legalize the use of medical marijuana, there needs to be some tools in place for employers to help make sure that their workplaces remain safe.

There is also workers’ compensation and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The employer may require a drug test when there is an accident at work. If the employee tests positive for an illegal substance, then the decision about paying out benefits may be significantly impacted. Since it is still illegal at the federal level, courts in several states have upheld terminations when the worker tested positive for marijuana.

As you can see, there are still several gray areas when it comes to medical marijuana use and the possibility of denied workers' compensation claims in Florida.

If you are one of the thousands in Florida currently registered for medical marijuana and you were injured while on the job, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney.