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Injured comp attorney entitled to CBD oil reimbursement

workers comp

A workers compensation attorney acting as a claimant in a case against his law firm was entitled to recoup costs to purchase cannabidiol, or CBD, oil to treat his workplace injury, a Pennsylvania appellate court ruled Tuesday.

The Commonwealth Court said the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board erred in overturning a comp judge’s decision permitting reimbursement.  

Mark Schmidt injured his back in April 2017 while loading files into his trial bag. He was approved for medical expenses and later sought reimbursement for costs for his doctor-prescribed CBD oil.

His law firm – Schmidt, Kirifides and Rassias PC – refused reimbursement because the CBD oil was not a pharmaceutical drug.

Mr. Schmidt filed a penalty petition alleging his firm violated the comp act in denying reimbursement.

A comp judge granted the penalty petition and ordered the firm to reimburse Mr. Schmidt because the CBD oil was a “medical supply under the (comp) Act and part of Claimant’s reasonable and necessary medical treatment.”

The comp board reversed the decision, ruling employers and insurers cannot be forced to pay for CBD oil because it isn’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is derived from federally illegal cannabis.

The Commonwealth Court ruled the appeal board didn’t have the authority to reweigh the evidence used in the comp judge’s decision and that the employer violated the comp act in denying reimbursement.

The court also said FDA approval of treatment isn’t a requirement under the state’s comp act and that hemp-derived CBD oil is federally legal.