Minnesota: Supreme Court Denies Workers’ Compensation for Costs of Medical Marijuana

St. Paul, MN: Justices on the state’s Supreme Court have determined that employees cannot be financially reimbursed for their use of medical cannabis to recover from a workplace injury. 

The ruling reverses an order from the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals which had determined that medical cannabis related costs were eligible for reimbursement. The Court’s decision also strikes down a 2015 administrative rule enacted by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry that excluded medical marijuana from the list of “illegal substances” ineligible for workers’ compensation. 

The Court’s majority held that employees were ineligible for reimbursement because cannabis remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law and that it would be inappropriate to require employers to “finance” an employee’s acquisition of an illicit substance. 

Supreme Courts in several other states have also ruled on this issue. This year, courts in three states upheld employees’ ability to be financially reimbursed for their use of medical cannabis. 

Currently, five states — Connecticut, New HampshireNew Jersey, New Mexico, and New York – explicitly allow for employees to have their medical cannabis expenses reimbursed. By contrast, seven states expressly prohibit workers’ compensation insurance from reimbursing medical marijuana-related costs: Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, and Washington.

In all other jurisdictions, the law is either silent on the issue or states that insurers are “not required” to reimburse employees who are injured on the job for the costs related to their use of medical cannabis.

The case is Musta v. Mendota Heights Dental Center et al.