Ohio Workers’ Comp and Medical Marijuana

If you are injured while on the job, or as the result of your employment in Ohio, then in most cases, you receive medical care and compensation through the workers’ compensation system. Your workers’ comp insurance covers the medical expenses associated with your treatment. If you have to be out of work for weeks or months, you may obtain disability benefits.

Now that the Ohio legislature has legalized medical marijuana, you may wonder how the drug impacts the Ohio workers’ comp system. The truth is, very little has changed. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) moves forward as it did before, and it treats marijuana largely as it did when the drug was entirely illegal.

If you are interested in using medical marijuana for a condition, or if your physician has already recommended cannabis, be careful to review your employer’s stance on the drug and on how the BWC treats marijuana use, and contact an Ohio workers’ comp lawyer. There could be negative consequences for using medical marijuana despite its legalization and availability.

For answers to your questions regarding workers’ comp and medical marijuana, contact Adrienne Hines and Victor Kademenos – both of whom are Ohio State Bar Association Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation. At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, they are ready to help you. Free consultations can be scheduled online, or by calling (419) 625-7770.

Medical Marijuana in Ohio

House Bill 523 legalized medical marijuana within the state. It went into effect on September 8, 2016 – though it has taken longer for the state’s marijuana system to be established and ready for a recommendation by a doctor. Ohio has hit delays in almost every step of the process, from approving cultivators to creating a patient registry and many lawsuits in between. The optimistic estimate is that patients may be able to purchase marijuana by the end of 2018.

Only certain patients may qualify for a recommendation. Ohio lawmakers approved medical marijuana for the treatment of several conditions, including, but not limited to:

  • AIDS and HIV
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy or another seizure disorder
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma,
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Per the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, the list of medical conditions that marijuana can treat is much longer. If you’re concerned about your health care needs not qualifying, contact an attorney from our firm to learn more about workers’ comp and medical marijuana.

Ohio’s Workers’ Comp Will Not Pay for Marijuana

One of your first questions regarding the use of medical marijuana for a work-related injury or condition may be whether or not workers’ comp will pay for it. The answer is no. There is no statute or rule specifically regarding workers’ comp reimbursing workers for medical marijuana. However, there are general rules regarding the medications BWC will reimburse you for. BWC only covers drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, and the FDA has not approved it for any medicinal uses.

There are two other obstacles as well, if a lack of FDA approval was not enough. The BWC only covers drugs listed on its pharmaceutical formulary. Marijuana is not included. Additionally, the BWC requires drugs to be dispersed by a registered pharmacist for them to be eligible for reimbursement. Marijuana is sold from dispensaries, not pharmacies.

What does this mean? If your physician recommends cannabis to treat a work-related injury or condition, the cost of using the drug rests on your shoulders. Your workers’ compensation insurance will not cover the expense of using marijuana.

Your Employer Does Not Have to Accommodate Marijuana Use

If your physician recommends marijuana use, you need to be careful before purchasing and using the drug. Neither Ohio’s medical marijuana law nor any other law requires your employer accommodate your use of medical marijuana. This not only means you cannot use the drug at work, but it also means you could get in trouble if you use the drug outside of work.

You need to consider how you would use the drug and how it may impact your work. If you imbibe the drug shortly before work or while on a lunch break, you may appear intoxicated or impaired to a co-worker or supervisor. Or, you may have to submit to regular or random drug testing. If you have been using cannabis regularly for a medical purpose, THC may have built up in your system. If that is the case, you would likely fail a drug test.

If your employer determines you are using marijuana, even if you are doing so lawfully, then they can sanction, discipline, or fire you. Nothing in Ohio’s law prohibits employers from taking adverse actions regarding an employee’s medical marijuana use.

Do You Have Questions About Workers’ Comp and Medical Marijuana? Call Us Today

If you have questions regarding medical marijuana use under your workers’ comp insurance, do not hesitate to obtain experienced legal advice. Attorneys Adrienne Hines and Victor Kademenos are certified workers’ compensation specialists by the Ohio State Bar Association. They have been following the progress of medical marijuana from day one, and they are prepared for how it may impact workers’ comp claims.

Contact them at Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA at (419) 625-7770, or through the online form to schedule a free case consultation today, and to learn more about workers’ comp and medical marijuana.