Massachusetts: Court Denies Reimbursements for Medical Cannabis-Related Costs

Boston, MA: An insurer is not obligated to cover expenses resulting from an employee’s use of medical cannabis while recovering from a job-related injury, according to a decision by Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Justices opined that explicit language included in the state’s medical cannabis access law fails to require “any health insurance provider … to reimburse any person for the expenses of the medical use of marijuana.”

They concluded: “It is one thing for a state statute to authorize those who want to use medical marijuana or [to] provide a patient with a written certification for medical marijuana, to do so and assume the potential risk of federal prosecution; it is quite another for it to require unwilling third parties to pay for such use and risk such prosecution. The drafters of the medical marijuana law recognized and respected this distinction.”

State courts have issued inconsistent verdicts on the issue of medical cannabis reimbursement, with courts in New Jersey and New Hampshire ruling in favor of a worker’s right to compensation while a Delaware Superior Court recently ruling against it.

The case is Wright v. Central Mutual Insurance Company.