Injured workers can seek reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs for medical marijuana to treat work injuries according to a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court decision handed down on March 17, 2023. The worker in question, Paul Sheetz, used medical marijuana to treat chronic pain from an old work injury. He used the drug to ween off long-term use of prescribed opioids. His employer’s insurance company denied his request to be reimbursed for the costs of the medical marijuana. The Court, ruling on the insurer’s refusal, noted that the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act mandates that no medical marijuana patient can be denied any rights for lawful use of medical marijuana. The Workers Comp Act provides injured workers a right to reimbursement for medical expenses, including medical marijuana, that are reasonable and necessary to treat a work injury.
This is an especially important decision for workers who have been trying to get off dangerous and expensive opioids by using medical marijuana. They should no longer be forced to pay for this treatment themselves, often out of limited fixed incomes. Workers should have a prescription from a doctor to use medical marijuana and be prepared to provide the prescription in support of a request for reimbursement.