Marijuana Expenses in Workers’ Compensation Cases

The legality and illegality of marijuana consumption, as well as usage among various states in the US, have always been a popularly discussed topic. Some authorities are indecisive about whether workers injured while on the job should be compensated for marijuana expenses in the states where marijuana is illegal. Some are blaming the federal law for providing employers with the freedom to decide not to pay marijuana expenses in workers' compensation cases. There is no unanimous decision or policy under federal law, and different states have made different conclusions and verdicts for such cases. To help establish one fixed policy and a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court has ordered top lawyers from the justice department to investigate the situation and provide an appropriate and practical decision. 

Cases in the Past and their Verdicts:

Recently, a few cases have involved Minnesota workers injured in the workplace and the employer has denied paying marijuana expenses as compensation. These cases have recently come to light. Justices met in a private conference to discuss the issue. Both cases were ruled against the workers and in favor of the employer by the Minnesota Supreme Court because of the schedule 1 status of marijuana as per the Federal Controlled Substances Act.

The Supreme Court has now asked the Solicitor General to submit a conversation and decision brief for the cases so that the court can verify the process and validity of the decision. This is a good sign, as it shows that the government is taking an interest in the cases and is looking for ways to resolve them and provide the workers with another chance to make their case. Minnesota is just one example of a state where workers have filed such cases for compensation. Different states have provided various rulings; hence the need for a unanimous effective policy and code of conduct for such cases has increased. For instance, a case filed in the US Supreme Court met the same fate as the Minnesota one; however, courts in New Jersey and New Hampshire gave the verdict that workers can be compensated for marijuana expenses despite marijuana’s Schedule 1 status in the Federal Control Substances Act. 

Public and State Pressure:

The inconsistency and gray area amongst the verdicts for such workers’ compensation cases are very evident, with even renowned Supreme Court judges calling the federal government's approach in handling such cases unreliable and inconsistent. The public is also pushing for an effective and consistent ruling policy that can help the workers get their rightfully deserved compensation. The state-level legalization movement for marijuana is also gaining momentum and therefore, so is the fight for such cases. The government is finally being held accountable for the inconsistent approach in such cases. 

"Until the US Supreme Court provides an adequate and consistent policy for this matter, getting reimbursements out to injured workers for marijuana expenses is a tricky task. It is largely dependent on various factors such as the state you reside in, the intensity of the injury, and the purpose of ingesting marijuana. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side will allow you to file a claim with adequate documents and evidence to increase your chances of winning the case" says legal expert Rich Godshall from Ostroff Injury Law.

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