A Workers’ Compensation Judge in New Jersey has ordered Freehold Township to pay for a claimant’s medical cannabis, according to a report by the New Jersey Law Journal. This is the second time a New Jersey judge has ruled in favor of worker’s comp covering medical cannabis for an injured worker, setting a powerful precedent.
A lawyer representing the insurance group opposed the payment claims, arguing that federal law prevents an insurance carrier from funding a patient’s medical cannabis. Judge Lionel Simon ruled against the insurance company despite this reasoning, as well as against a recent Maine ruling that held insurance companies can’t be forced to pay for cannabis that is still illegal federally.
The judge, aware of the Maine ruling and other legal precedents, held that his ruling is still correct. Judge Simon said that state and federal drug laws are crafted to prevent the illicit distribution and use of drugs, adding:
“I don’t think the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Act is in conflict with that. Certainly I don’t understand how a [insurance] carrier who will never possess, never distribute, never intend to distribute these products, who will merely sign a check into an attorney’s trust account, is in any way complicit with the distribution of illegal narcotics. … What else is important to note here is in this, Mr. McNeary’s case, there is a documented medical need and the concern is that Mr. McNeary is going to become addicted to opioids.” — Judge Lionel Simon, in a statement made in court