With the recent news that Senator Curt Thomas has filed legislation to legalize marijuana in Georgia, many people are asking what effect that will have on workers’ compensation claims? While Senator Thomas says the legalization will allow doctors to prescribe marijuana (up to 2 ounces) for specific “debilitating medical conditions” and that it would be strictly regulated by the state, many still wonder what effect this will have on workers’ compensation claims.
First we have to ask, what are “debilitation medical conditions”? We find that medical marijuana has been prescribed in many states for people with debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis-C, ALS, Crohns Disease, and Alzheimer’s. But it has also been prescribed for conditions seen in the workers’ compensation field such as severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, migraines and seizures/muscle spasms.
While many argue that the use of medical marijuana are beneficial for these conditions, its use brings up many issues in workers’ compensation, including the side effects and behavioral effects that the drug will have on the individual. Others ask, how will this affect the injured workers’ recovery and return to work? Some critics worry about increased absences, tardiness, returning to work in a safety-sensitive occupation and additional injuries caused by the drug use/intoxication?
While the use of marijuana is NOT legal in Georgia at this time, you may wonder, what would happen if my doctor prescribed marijuana in relation to my workers’ compensation injury? Many insurance companies are faced with this question and most say that they will deny payment for the drug unless they are ordered by a judge, but only time will tell.
This is an issue that we will monitor closely in order to provide our clients with the best possible treatment available to them.