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When is someone impaired by marijuana?


How recently must an injured worker have smoked marijuana to be impaired enough to deny them workers compensation benefits is an interesting question courts across the country may eventually have to answer.

I bring this up for a few reasons including the increased ease of obtaining the drug, and a recent Louisiana appeals-court ruling in which the judges upheld an injured worker's right to benefits even though a post-injury test showed the claimant tested positive for consumption of marijuana and a prescription drug.

Also, I think it's an unsettled issue when a post-injury drug test shows a claimant used pot at some point before the accident, even days before. Does that mean they were impaired when the injury occurred?

A story I wrote on the Louisiana court's decision is available here and you can access the ruling here.

But one thing I didn't discuss in the story I wrote about the case is that the court found that the injured worker -a food server who tripped over a box of potatoes- had overcome a presumption of intoxication because she was performing her job well at the time of the accident and it had been four days prior to the accident when she last smoked pot.

The point here is that by raising the fact that she had not smoked marijuana on the day of the accident, the court essentially said that it wasn't proper to assume she was intoxicated merely because there was some detectable amount of marijuana in her system.

As I said, I suspect courts across the nation will have to deal with the question of what amount of marijuana in one's system is enough to determine intoxication. Or will courts in some states determine that any amount or no matter when the person last smoked, is enough to deny benefits?

We will have to wait and see, but I bet this issue will have to be resolved.