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New Jersey Supreme Court issued a decision regarding the use of medical marijuana under The Compassionate Use Act by Gregg Malovany and Robert Weinstein.

2021-04-21

The New Jersey Supreme Court issued a decision regarding the use of medical marijuana. The issue specifically before the Court was whether an employer can be ordered to reimburse the injured worker for the ongoing costs of medical marijuana under the New Jersey Compassionate Use Act. The Compensation Judge decided in favor of the employee ordering the employer to reimburse the cost of the medical marijuana. This was affirmed by the Appellate Division. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court decisions. It found the following:

•             The Compassionate Use Act cannot require a private health insurer to reimburse a person for costs associated with the use of medical marijuana but the term "private health insurer" does not include workers' compensation coverage. As a result, employers and their carriers are not exempt from the reimbursement requirement of the statute.

•             The Supreme Court found that there was competent medical evidence to support the argument that medical marijuana can restore some of a worker's function or relieve symptoms such as chronic pain and discomfort. As a result, the Supreme Court held that medical marijuana may be found to constitute reasonable and necessary care under the New Jersey Workers' Compensation Act.

•             The Court rejected the employer's argument that when they are ordered to reimburse employees for costs of medical marijuana they are violating federal law by aiding and abetting under the Controlled Substances Act. The court concluded that there can never be aiding and abetting when actions are taken pursuant to a Court Order including an order from the Division of Workers’ Compensation.

Finally, because there are different outcomes in different states on the preemption issue, this matter may eventually have to be decided by the United States Supreme Court.

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