Mass. Holds the Line on Reimbursement for Marijuana, but Some States Pushing Further

Massachusetts’ highest court ruled Tuesday that a workers’ compensation insurer cannot be required to reimburse a claimant for the cost of marijuana he used to curb chronic pain from a workplace accident, as long as the substance remains illegal under federal law.

While the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling is in line with decisions by several other states, courts and lawmakers in some jurisdictions are moving in the opposite direction. A New Jersey appellate court ruled in January that the federal law against marijuana has no bearing on an employer’s duty to provide appropriate care to a workers’ compensation claimant. Bills pending in the New Jersey and New York state legislatures would require insurers to reimburse claimants for the cost of marijuana used for therapy.

The Massachusetts ruling ensures that insurers are off the hook for the cost of pot, at least until Congress decriminalizes the drug. The court said the federal Controlled Substance Acts makes…

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