Medical marijuana reaches societal “tipping point” with WC consequences

Medical marijuana reaches societal “tipping point” with WC consequences

Medical marijuana reaches societal “tipping point” with WC consequences The issue of medical marijuana in the workers’ comp arena is approaching a crucial “tipping point,” and producers who haven’t taken action on behalf of their clients could be in for some nasty surprises.

That’s the message from PRIUM Senior Vice President Mark Pew, a 30-year workers’ comp vet and opinion leader on the medical marijuana front. It was also the message of a roundtable discussion at the 2014 CLM Annual Conference in Florida.

Hosted by PRIUM’s Scott Yasko, the discussion will center on the clinical risks and benefits of medical marijuana, as well as potential legal liabilities and state-mandated payment. It’s all part of rampant industry-wide concern on medical marijuana and its future in workers’ compensation, Pew told Insurance Business.

“It’s definitely a concern—especially given these stories that tug at the heartstrings about seizures that can only be controlled by marijuana,” Pew said. “The question is, should there be constraints around it, or should it just be locally legalized?”

Pew said that payers in general have not committed to providing coverage for medical marijuana treatment, and “water cooler talk” suggests many payers are at odds on how to proceed. Some have even failed to address the issue altogether. And that could be a problem if agents don’t discuss the issues with employers up front—especially given the dissonance between state and federal law.

“Brokers may need to proactively bring up medical marijuana—whether the employer will accept it as a treatment option, how it will be controlled, and how the PBM will enforce formularies,” Pew said. “At the moment it’s not a strategic discussion, but it needs to be.”

If producers don’t take this first step of establishing consistent standards when it comes to medical marijuana, the employer could be left open to both federal lawsuits and workplace liabilities in which an employee using marijuana paid for by the employer injures themselves or another worker.

Pew believes society as a whole is on a “tipping point,” with a slender majority perhaps in favor of allowing medical marijuana as a treatment option. As such, employers and their insurance agents need to make strategic decisions ahead of time to protect both their workers and themselves.

“Medical marijuana is a societal inevitability, and workers’ comp professionals need to figure out how they’ll deal with it,” he said. “In many cases, the train has left the station and you’ll either be riding the train or driving the train, or you’re going to get run over by the train.”


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5 Comments
  • BossIlluminati 3/31/2014 10:47:20 AM
    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

    "any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

    Deaths by Alcohol and Tobacco: Millions
    Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
    Deaths by Guns: Millions
    Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
    Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

    love and freedom forever

    AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS! 33
    Post a reply
  • Bossman 3/31/2014 1:28:09 PM
    Death to the users is not the only concern. Allowing users to enter the workforce, operate machinery, work in hazardous situations, etc. puts an unknown liability into the mix. Without a legal limit of intoxication, employers cannot restrict employees but attorneys can hold the employer liable for negligent entrustment for minute traces of a drug that may have been legally used on personal time.
    A correlation would be the mold claims of 2003. The sky was the limit until the CDC set standards. The same will be true with THC.
    Post a reply
  • KathyD 3/31/2014 11:42:14 PM
    Please call Congressman Issa’s Office
    at 202-225-3906 and request he schedules HR 4046 - Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act of 2014 for a Hearing.

    It is difficult to understand and believe Congress enacted a law requiring a government official to lie and to ignore science and medical studies. This renders the Office unreliable and essentially, a fraud.
    Post a reply