Technically, under the new law, if the doctor prescribes marijuana as a treatment for your injuries, the insurance company should cover the cost. However, it may not be that easy.
Missouri voters approved Amendment 2 on November 6, 2018, which is the Medical Marijuana and Veteran Health Care Services Initiative. The new law essentially means medical marijuana is legal for patients suffering from the following broad list of conditions:
- Conditions that cause severe muscle spasms
- Psychiatric disorders
- Terminal illnesses
- HIV or other immune deficiency syndromes
If you want to receive the treatment, then a doctor must determine that marijuana could be an effective solution for treatment, or a safer alternative compared to other medication the patient could take.
The law is fairly recent, and as of yet, it’s difficult to assess exactly what impact it has on Missouri residents. Many are wondering whether Amendment 2 would mean employers would have to pay for marijuana treatment in workers compensation claims.
What Does the Law Say?
Because the medical use of marijuana in Missouri is now legal, many workers are asking if they can now cover their marijuana treatment under a workers compensation claim.
Workers compensation is an insurance policy the state requires employers to take to strengthen worker safety. When an employee gets hurt at work or is ill because of exposure to certain elements, workers compensation claims can cover the cost of their treatment and account for lost wages if the person has to miss work for a while.
The treatment is determined by a medical physician which Missouri law says can be chosen by the employer or the insurance company carrying the policy. Technically, under the new law, if the doctor prescribes marijuana as a treatment for your injuries, the insurance company should not contest this decision nor deny to cover the costs of treatment because of it. It’s possible for the company to ask for proof that marijuana is a reasonable treatment in your case and that no other course of action would have the same effect.
However, the state laws contradict the federal ones, where marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug, and its use is illegal. That can serve as a cause for the insurance company to deny paying for this type of treatment. They could argue that paying for your marijuana costs would force them to commit a federal crime.
In other states such as New Mexico, for example, the courts awarded compensation for medical marijuana treatment, arguing that since the medical physician prescribed this treatment (legal in the state), the company had no cause to deny the compensation payment.
Questions About Your Workmens Comp Claim
Though now legal, the cost of medical marijuana treatment could be denied by the insurance company under a workers compensation claim. If this is the case, contact a St. Louis workers compensation lawyer to see how you can contest the decision and what other legal options you may have.
For more than 20 years attorney James M. Hoffmann has spent a majority of his legal career dedicated to protecting the rights of injured workers. Based in St. Louis, and handling workers compensation cases throughout the State of Missouri, our law firm will ensure that your rights are protected.