When it comes to California and its trailblazing politics, not many other states in the nation can hold a candle. As a result of Proposition 64, voters approved legalizing recreational use of marijuana and it has reverberated throughout the state causing some headaches for the California Workers’ Compensation system. How will the legalization of weed impact worker still remains to be seen but what is definite is the industry will probably struggle with issues around compensating injured workers for marijuana.
In November 2016, The California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) issued a report which highlights the possible effect of the legalizing marijuana use in California on workers’ comp insurers, the work force and the employers. The paper examines the crossroads of workers’ comp with medical and recreational marijuana laws in California and at the federal level.
The paper highlights one major fact as it relates to the the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency; marijuana is still classified as a drug and it federal law bans its use. In California, the law states insurers may not be forced to compensate even if it has been medically recommended, However, this doesn’t mean insurers are off the hook and not required to cover marijuana. There may be pressure on workers’ comp physicians to suggest marijuana as remedy and this kind of pressure might lead to new laws pushing the issue on the insurance industry.
Other issues brought to light in the report are the trend on forced compensation. Injuries at work, sustained by recreational and medicinal marijuana users, will have to be examined thoroughly to determine how to compensate. medicinal a
What remains in question is really the medical effectiveness of marijuana and the idea of alternative practices to traditional medicine. Also, what can be a little alarming, is the lack of standardized prescription amounts which are issues that still need to be addressed.
Regardless of how any feels about the legalization of pot, the report advises the insurance industry to begin forward thinking. It would behoove claims administrators to determine review standards for payment and marijuana treatment. Furthermore, any policies set in motion should consider medical privacy laws as well as potential discords. No one ever said that being a trailblazer was easy!