New Jersey Supreme Court Upholds Medical Marijuana User’s Right to Reimbursement From Employer For Work-Related Accidents

In an important victory for the rights of medical marijuana users, on April 13, 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed an Appellate Division ruling, holding that a workers’ compensation judge may order employers in the State of New Jersey to reimburse injured employees for the cost of medical marijuana. Pashman Stein attorneys Alan Silber and Dillon J. McGuire represented several organizations as amici curiae before the New Jersey Supreme Court: (1) National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML); (2) Garden State–NORML (GS-NORML); (3) Coalition For Medical Marijuana–NJ (CMM-NJ); and (4) Doctors For Cannabis Regulation (DFCR). 

The Supreme Court’s decision in Hager v M & K Construction will have far-reaching implications, most importantly by providing employees that are injured at work broader access to medical marijuana in lieu of highly addictive and dangerous prescription opiates.    

In its ruling, the Supreme Court emphasized four main points:

  • New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) does not exempt employers from its obligation to reimburse injured employees for medical marijuana under the Worker’s Compensation Act (WCA), because they are neither a government medical assistance program, nor a private health insurer
  • Medical marijuana may be deemed a “reasonable and necessary” modality of treatment under the WCA based upon competent medical testimony
  • There is no positive conflict between the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and CUMMA that would extinguish an employer’s reimbursement obligation under the WCA
  • Employers would not be in violation of the CSA by reimbursing an employee for the cost of medical marijuana, because they would lack the specific intent necessary to constitute an “aiding and abetting” or “conspiracy” offense as defined under Federal law

For more information about the case, click here.

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