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A judge hearing a California comp case let an independent medical evaluator decide whether a claimant should be supplied medical marijuana to treat his workplace injury or illness.
California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund declined to release details about the case it was involved in, but did confirm the court’s action and the final outcome.
The court’s consideration of whether marijuana should be provided as a work comp medical benefit supports a theory this blog posted on nearly three weeks ago when a Canadian work comp board denied payment of medical marijuana for a Saskatchewan man.
Comp Time suggested in that posting that as more states allow people to legally consume pot with a doctor’s prescription there is growing likelihood that medical marijuana use will become a comp issue
Work place safety, job accommodation, and benefits costs are but a few of the issues at stake.
In the California SCIF case, the work comp judge suggested leaving it to the independent medical evaluator to decide whether marijuana should be provided to the claimant and both sides agreed to abide by the IME’s ruling.
The IME ruled against the claimant and a SCIF spokeswoman said it was an unusual case although she couldn’t elaborate. She did say, however, that SCIF’s utilization review department had not encountered other medical marijuana cases.
But now that an IME has been allowed to decide in one case, what is to stop claimants or their attorneys from suggesting that other cases get similar treatment? Given the right circumstances in another case, could an IME’s decisions go the other way?
Since Comp Time’s earlier posting on the Saskatchewan man, New Jersey became the 14th U.S. state to allow medical marijuana use.