There’s no doubt marijuana is having a moment, with several states having passed legislation legalizing it for both medical and recreational use. Media focus has centered on the drug’s benefits, but workers compensation experts remain cautious.

Executive Summary

With several states having passed legislation legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use, media focus has centered on the drug's benefits. But workers compensation experts remain cautious, with some considering the risk on a claim-by-claim basis while others avoid it entirely. However, all that could change if marijuana is reclassified so it is no longer a Schedule I drug, the experts say.

While some insurers have been court-ordered to pay for the drug under workers comp benefits, many are taking a watch-and-see approach.

“I’m convinced that some companies are paying for it to some degree, but you don’t hear anybody talking about it if they are,” said Matt Harmon, senior vice president of The MEMIC Group, a carrier that is not currently paying for medical marijuana.

Dr. Melissa Burke, head of managed care and clinical at AmTrust, said that injured employees are requesting medical marijuana as an alternative treatment. “Today we’re looking at it on a claim-by-claim basis,” said Dr. Burke.

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