Workers’ Comp Must Cover Medical Marijuana

NEW MEXICO:  Medical marijuana a doctor recommended for an injured worker’s pain must be paid for by the workers’ employer and insurer, the New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled.

Despite the drug’s federal classification as a controlled substance, the court found that New Mexico law entitled Gregory Vialpando to reimbursement for marijuana to treat the high-intensity pain that followed failed spinal surgeries for a workplace back injury.

Vialpando met the threshold for payments under workers’ compensation laws when his doctor recommended medical marijuana as reasonable and necessary for his treatment, the ruling states.

The Aug. 29 decision supports a lower court finding that Vialpando’s participation in the New Mexico Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Program constituted reasonable and necessary medical care, the standard for reimbursement set by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act.

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