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New Mexico: Appeals Court Says Medicinal Marijuana Costs Covered By Workers' Comp

Thursday, 16 October 2014

New Mexico: Appeals Court Says Medicinal Marijuana Costs Covered By Workers' Comp

Santa Fe, NM: Employers and insurance companies are legally obligated to cover the expense of medical cannabis for employees injured on the job, the New Mexico Court of Appeals has affirmed.

Writing for the court in Vialpando v. Ben's Automotive Services, Judge James Wechsler opined that the use of marijuana for pain management for injuries suffered while on the job constituted "reasonable and necessary care." The Judge determined that services specific to the use of medicinal cannabis are eligible for compensation even though the substance remains classified as a schedule I drug under federal law and may not be legally obtained at a licensed pharmacy.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals ruling is one of the first favorable court decisions involving cannabis and workers' rights. To date, the Supreme Courts of three states - California, Oregon, and Washington - have determined that state laws authorizing the physicians-supervised use of medical cannabis do not exempt patients from being fired for their off-the-job cannabis use. The Supreme Court for the state of Colorado is expected to rule on a similar matter imminently.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.