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With More States Legalizing Marijuana, How Could Workers’ Comp be Affected?

Even if marijuana does become legal in Nebraska, employees may still have a difficult time claiming compensation for a work injury.

Both medicinal and recreational marijuana have been illegal in Nebraska since 1927. However, bills are regularly proposed and legislators often debate the issue. With so many other states legalizing recreational marijuana, Nebraska may soon be one of the next states to do so. Although the future of legal marijuana in Nebraska is still uncertain, there is one thing that is not. Employees who use marijuana, even if legal, will still face certain challenges if they have to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Marijuana and Workers’ Compensation Claims

While marijuana is still illegal in Nebraska, consuming it could negatively affect your workers’ compensation claim and the benefits for which you are eligible.

The insurance companies that offer workers’ comp are concerned about intoxicated individuals. The fear is that if a person is intoxicated, they may injure themselves further and exacerbate the original injury, causing the insurance company to incur even more costs. Insurance companies will use many arguments to reduce or deny claims. If they learn that a worker has consumed marijuana, they will argue that is a reason to deny the claim, and they may have a valid legal reason to do it.

Workers in Nebraska would likely also face issues that have already come up in states that have legalized marijuana, such as Colorado. The courts in these states have often decided that if a worker uses medical marijuana while recovering from an injury, the insurance company should not be liable for paying for it.

Problems with Federal Law

For the time-being, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, regardless of how many states legalize it. Insurance companies are hesitant to refer patients to a specific doctor for a medical marijuana prescription because they could be breaking federal law. Many insurance companies operate in multiple states, which could make something as seemingly innocent as a doctor’s referral a violation of federal law.

Employers may also have the same fear. In Nebraska, employers are allowed to decide which doctor will treat the worker if the employee is not currently seeing a doctor or if the employee waives the right to receive treatment from their current doctor. Employers are also typically hesitant to violate federal law by referring an employee to a certain doctor for medical marijuana and so, that could be an issue for an employee trying to obtain workers’ comp.

Our Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help with Your Claim

Obtaining workers’ compensation after a workplace injury is not always easy. However, certain issues such as marijuana can make it even more difficult. If you have been hurt at work, let our Omaha workers’ compensation attorney at Andres Law Offices, PC, LLO, handle your claim. We understand the law surrounding workers’ compensation and will use it to ensure you receive the benefits you need. Call us today at (402) 491-4003 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with our skilled attorney.