By Paul Armentano, Guest Columnist
Should health insurance programs reimburse patients for their use of medical cannabis products? In a growing number of states, the courts are saying “yes.”
In the most recent example, a Pennsylvania Appellate Court ruled that workers’ compensation plans must cover cannabis-related expenditures when an employee uses it to recover from a workplace-related injury. The court ruled that employees in Pennsylvania possess “a statutory right” to be reimbursed for medical marijuana expenses that are reasonable and necessary to treat a work injury.
“The MMA (Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act) specifically mandates that no medical marijuana patients be denied any rights for (the) lawful use of medical marijuana,” the Court said.
The Pennsylvania Court is not the first to issue an affirmative verdict in this matter. Courts in several states, including Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York, have provided similar opinions – determining that the denial of compensation claims would be antithetical to the legislatures’ express findings that cannabis is a state-legal therapy.
By contrast, courts in some other states, including Minnesota, have issued contradictory opinions – finding that it would be inappropriate for insurers to reimburse claimants for their use of a federally illegal substance. Federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, placing it in the same legal category as heroin.
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