Delaware: Court Upholds Denial of Reimbursement for Medical Marijuana-Related Costs

Dover, DE: An employee who uses medical cannabis in compliance with state law to heal from a work-related injury may be denied workers’ compensation, according to a ruling by the Delaware Superior Court.

The Court’s ruling affirmed that the state’s Industrial Access Board acted appropriately when it denied an employee’s claim for medical marijuana-related reimbursement costs because the weight of the evidence did not find the treatment to be “reasonable and necessary” – a standard that must be met under the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act.

It determined: “The General Assembly’s finding that medical marijuana can effectively treat some patients does not amount to a finding that medical marijuana is ‘reasonable and necessary’ to treat all patients. Indeed, whether medical treatment is reasonable and necessary is an individualized inquiry. Thus, the General Assembly’s acknowledgment of medical marijuana’s efficacy in treating some patients does not preclude a finding that medical marijuana is not reasonable or necessary for [this] particular patient.”

Courts in several other states, including New Jersey and New Hampshire, have determined that employees injured on the job are eligible to have their medical marijuana-related costs reimbursed by their employers.

The case is Nobles-Roark v. Back Burner, Case No. N19A-11-001 ALR (Del. Superior Ct. July 28, 2020).