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How Will the Legalization of Medical MJ Affect Workers’ Comp?

With support for medical cannabis legislation gaining momentum in Nebraska, the question remains of whether workers’ compensation doctors will begin recommending medical cannabis to injured workers with qualifying health conditions.

Even though it shares a border with Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational cannabis at the state level, Nebraska’s stance on cannabis is blatantly 420 unfriendly. On the one hand, Nebraska treats first offense possession of marijuana as a civil infraction and has done so since 1979, but since then, its cannabis laws have not budged, even as states from all across the political spectrum have made cannabis legal, officially or in all but name. This year, a bill sponsored by Sen. Anna Wishart remains Nebraska’s best hope for instituting a statewide medical cannabis program, but as of July 2021, the bill has yet to become law. Even when medical cannabis becomes legal in Nebraska, injured workers will likely still face an uphill battle in getting workers’ compensation doctors to recommend it for them, but an Omaha workers’ compensation lawyer can help.

If Your Work Injury or Occupational Disease is a Qualifying Condition for a Medical Cannabis Recommendation

If you have been following the debate over legalizing medical cannabis in Nebraska, you are aware that one of the obstacles to legalization is that cannabis remains illegal at the federal level; state laws must not contradict federal law, or else they will be unconstitutional. Under Wishart’s bill, patients would be able to buy non-smokable cannabis products from licensed dispensaries with a physician’s written recommendation. In states with medical cannabis programs, a physician’s recommendation for a patient to use cannabis to manage a qualifying health condition is not the same thing as a prescription. Physicians cannot prescribe cannabis, because federal law does not acknowledge any medical uses for it; likewise, cannabis cannot be sold over the counter, hence its sale at licensed dispensaries to patients with written authorization to buy it.

Many of the health conditions listed as “qualifying conditions” in other states’ medical cannabis programs, such as clinical anxiety and cancer and chemotherapy-associated, are sometimes diagnosed as occupational diseases in workers’ compensation cases. If you have a qualifying condition, but your workers’ compensation doctor refuses to recommend medical cannabis, you could be in for a long dispute before you can get your doctor to authorize you to buy cannabis legally. When cannabis becomes legal, workers’ compensation insurance plans may need to issue new guidelines addressing insurance coverage for medical cannabis. Even if medical marijuana becomes legal, do not expect a hazy green utopia in Nebraska, especially not in workers’ compensation cases.

Contact Andres Law Offices, PC LLO About Qualifying Conditions for Medical Cannabis

A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you access medical cannabis, when it becomes legal, if you have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition. Contact Andres Law Offices, PC LLO in Omaha, Nebraska about your case.