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Injured worker’s marijuana referral not reimbursable

Posted On: Jul. 2, 2021 12:26 PM CST


An injured worker failed to convince an appellate court on Wednesday that his workers compensation insurer was obligated to pay for a medical marijuana evaluation or reimburse for the drug.

In Jones v. Grace Healthcare, the Florida District Court of Appeals, First District affirmed a judge of compensation claims’ ruling that requiring an insurer to pay for or facilitate an injured worker’s use of marijuana would expose the insurer to criminal liability.

Patrick Shawn Jones injured his lower back in a work-related accident in 2001 and received pain management for chronic pain syndrome. In 2017, he asked to be referred to a physician who could prescribe him medical marijuana as an oral pain medication alternative. The insurer denied the request and the judge of compensation claims concluded that Florida statutes that state that marijuana is not reimbursable removed the insurer and employer of any obligation to pay for the medical marijuana. The judge also determined that the statute prohibited reimbursement for evaluations necessary to obtain a marijuana prescription. Mr. Jones appealed.

The appellate court held that the judge correctly that marijuana is not reimbursable under Florida statutes, and that an evaluation to acquire marijuana is also “indisputably not reimbursable.”