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Can the Use of Medical Marijuana Affect a California Workers’ Comp Claim?

 Posted on August 24,2021 in Denied Claims and Appeals

Gilroy workers' compensation attorneyUnlike some other forms of bodily injury insurance, workers’ compensation insurance is no-fault. This means that an injured worker’s claim cannot be denied even if the incident that caused the injury was caused by the employee’s own unintentional negligence. There are some exceptions to that rule, however. For example, if an employee was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident, the employer does have the standing to deny the claim.

But what happens if the employee has a medical marijuana card under California’s Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) and has been prescribed cannabis by their doctor to alleviate symptoms of a medical condition? Can a workers’ compensation claim be denied because of the employee’s use of medical marijuana?

California’s Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act

Under MAUCRSA, there are a variety of medical conditions that have been approved for medical cannabis use, including AIDS, cancer, arthritis, glaucoma, chronic pain, and seizures. A doctor needs to make a recommendation for cannabis use and specify the condition being treated in order for the person to apply to the state and obtain a medical marijuana card. But this type of recommendation is different from many other types of medical prescriptions because marijuana–even for medical use–is still illegal at the federal level.

Any employee who has some type of physical or mental disability is protected from unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While this law applies in the majority of situations, it does not apply when it comes to the use of cannabis, because cannabis use is still considered a federal crime. The ADA provides no protection to a worker if their employer fires them for using cannabis for medical purposes, even if the worker never uses marijuana during work hours. This lack of protection can also mean that an injured employee’s workers’ compensation claim could be denied for the same reason.

Since the THC in marijuana can stay in a person’s system for up to 30 days after use, recent use of medical marijuana could show up in any type of drug test, even if it has been days or weeks since the injured worker used cannabis. A positive drug test could be enough for an employer or their insurance company to deny the workers’ comp claim, leaving the injured worker responsible for all of their medical bills and without any income while they are recovering.

Contact a Santa Clara County Work Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured at work and your claim has been denied because of medical marijuana use or any other reason, contact a skilled Gilroy, CA workers’ compensation appeal attorney immediately. At Cramer + Martinez, we have been aggressively advocating for injured workers for decades, and we will do all we can to make sure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. Call 408-848-1113 to schedule a free consultation.



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