Medical and recreational marijuana continues to be a hot topic at the state level across the United States, but it’s also been a talking point in regards to workers’ compensation and the recovery process after an injury. Just over half of the states have passed legislation legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, and Minnesota is one of those states. However, marijuana is not legal at the federal level, so how is the substance viewed in regards to workers’ compensation in Minnesota?
Despite the fact that marijuana is not legal at the federal level, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has ruled that marijuana for medical use is covered under workers’ compensation claims. Now, you’re not going to be able to get a prescription for any work injury, but there are some types of pain that may be effectively managed with medicinal marijuana. Each claim is evaluated on an individual basis, but some conditions that may make you eligible for medical marijuana after a work injury include:
- Chronic pain
- Migraines or frequent headaches
- Muscle spasms
- Nerve conditions
- Intractable pain conditions
One of the biggest reasons why medical marijuana is covered as a treatment option under Minnesota’s workers’ compensation law is because of the prevailing evidence that it is safer than long-term opioids. It is also usually cheaper than traditional opioids, and insurance companies are all for keeping costs at a minimum.
A Word of Caution
There are some notes that you should be aware of before pursuing medical cannabis as a treatment option for your work injury recovery. For starters, Minnesota has some pretty restrictive guidelines when it comes to how medical marijuana is used, meaning you’re not just going to be able to buy some marijuana and smoke it. The law requires a person taking medical marijuana to take it in pill, liquid or vapor forms, as they believe this can help prevent against abuse.
Also, you’ll want to make sure you visit a doctor that has a complete understanding of medical marijuana and its medical uses. Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger recommends that patients interested in the treatment option seek out a doctor who can conduct a full mental health evaluation, as medical marijuana may not be suitable for individuals with certain cognitive conditions.
A final aspect you need to consider is if medical marijuana is legal for your employer. If you are federally employed, you can be fired if a drug test shows that you have marijuana in your system, even if it is medically approved. It’s a good idea to talk with your attorney and management about what could happen if you pursue medical marijuana and how it could legally affect your employment.
If you are interested in pursuing medical marijuana after a work injury as part of your rehab, bring this to the attention of your workers’ compensation lawyer. We can point you in the direction of a doctor who has a thorough history with identifying pain and who has a clear understanding of how marijuana could work with your condition. For more information, reach out to Dean Margolis today.
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