The opioid epidemic and legalization of medical marijuana are both major issues today. It is now thought that using medical marijuana could lessen opioid use in this country. There are researchers who feel that more access to medical marijuana may reduce opioid dependence for pain management.
In early April, the Journal of Internal Medicine published studies which determined that medical marijuana may reduce opioid prescriptions for Medicare and Medicaid patients. However, there are two viewpoints as to the value of medical marijuana.
Proponents feel that it is a safe, effective treatment for cancer, pain, MS, and other conditions. Those against it think that it is dangerous, is not approved by the FDA, injures the lungs and brain, and is addictive.
MML Research, Findings and Programs
Medical marijuana laws (MML) are being looked at in-depth. One prominent doctor and medical marijuana proponent spoke about his research at the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI)’s yearly conference. Some of the topics included home growing vs. dispensaries; Medicare data; and prescriptions for sleep disorders, glaucoma, pain, anxiety and depression. Their analyses showed a noteworthy decrease in the use of prescription pain drugs in states after an MML went into effect. Follow-up research confirmed these findings.
Another benefit that was discussed was the financial aspect. In 2014, Medicare and Medicaid saved $1.04 billion for those states that had MMLs. “These are nontrivial savings to Medicaid and Medicare,” the doctor said. “It looks like access to cannabis, when you design the policies appropriately, can save both lives and money,” he added.
Delaware has a Medical Marijuana Program that is regulated by the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act. The Program is designed to give citizens legal access, while maintaining strict control of distribution and quality of the product. Vendors and inventory are regulated and coordinated with state and local law enforcement agencies and communities.
There are currently 29 states in the United States that have MML.
Workers’ Compensation and MML
Victims of serious workplace accidents can become addicted to opioids. Having medical marijuana prescriptions covered under Worker’s Compensation is not a guaranteed option – yet. In most cases these patients must pay for it out of their own pocket. However, courts have approved reimbursement by health insurance companies and self-insured employers.
This may all be changing, as marijuana becomes more acceptable as an alternative to opioids. It is possible that it will eventually be considered an appropriate treatment that is paid for by Workers’ Compensation. Getting to this point will involve more research.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) feels that there are benefits and possible risks for injured workers, and that every case is different. At this point, marijuana enforcement seems to be handled on a case-by-case-basis. If medical marijuana treatment is deemed to be reasonable and necessary in court, reimbursement can be made available.
As the movement gains momentum, employers will need to reconsider their policies. With 29 states on board, it will not be long until others follow suit.
If you have sustained a workplace injury and are considering medical marijuana, you may be caught up in this rapidly-changing legal environment.
Delaware Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help with Medical Marijuana Coverage Claims
Contact the Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC if you are having troubles getting medical marijuana coverage. We provide highly skilled legal representation for all Workers’ Compensation claims, including workplace injuries and prescription claims. Call 302-888-1221 today or complete our online contact form. From our offices in Wilmington and Philadelphia we represent injured workers in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.