New Mexico Appeals Court Rules Injured Employee’s MMJ Treatment Must Be Reimbursed

A New Mexico court of appeals has again upheld a workers compensation decision stating that an injured employee must be reimbursed for medical marijuana treatment by her employer.

In the third such ruling since May 2014, the court upheld a decision by a lower court to force American General Media to reimburse Sandra Lewis for the cost of her medical cannabis. Lewis sustained a back injury in December 1998 and suffers from chronic pain. She has been prescribed various medications since her injury, including oxycodone, Soma, Percocet, and was accepted into New Mexico’s medical marijuana program in 2010.

As other companies had done in the past, American General Media and its workers compensation administrator, Gallagher Bassett Services, tried to argue that paying for an employee’s marijuana would put them in violation of federal law.

In his written opinion for the case, Judge James Wechsler argued that “federal public policy was ambiguous in contrast with New Mexico’s clear public policy expressed in the [state] Compassionate Use Act.”

Weschler’s ruling is drawn from a 2013 U.S. Dept. of Justice memo stating that the federal government “would generally defer to state and local authorities” on issues of medical marijuana.


Photo Credit: Dank Depot

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