Judge rules insurance must pay for medical marijuana
A New Jersey Worker’s Comp judge orders Freehold Township to pay for a Township employee’s medical marijuana. This is a powerful precedent set by Judge Lionel Simon.
Marijuana is a controlled substance
Judge Simon ruled against an insurance carrier who refused to pay for a claimant’s prescription for medical marijuana. The insurance carrier citing that medical marijuana is a schedule I drug under federal law.
After the claimant, Mr. McNeary was injured on the job he went through multiple surgeries and had a pain management physician who prescribed an opioid, which McNeary built a tolerance for.
The judge was aware of the federal law prohibiting the use of marijuana in pain management because it is classified as a Schedule I drug. The insurance company argued that New Jersey Medical Marijuana Act is in conflict with federal law. A case in Maine had held it was constitutionally impermissible for a court to order an insurance company to pay for something in conflict with federal law.
Moral vs. Legal obligation
Judge Simon in his 17-page transcript did not feel “any moral or legal hesitancy” in permitting a less addictive treatment for pain. And stated that Worker’s Compensation statute is social legislation which “changes with the times”
Simon continued in his statement “If there’s anything criminal here, it’s how these drugs (opioids) have been force-fed to injured people creating addicts.”
Marijuana not an illicit narcotic
Judge Simon was a former prosecutor and while he supports state and federal narcotic laws, he doesn’t feel that an employer paying for an inured employees medical marijuana “is in any way complicit with the distribution of illicit narcotics.”
These cases will play a significant role in resolving the conflict between state and federal laws when it comes to legitimizing marijuana use and the cannabis industry.