Medical Marijuana and the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act

In 2016, Pennsylvania adopted the Medical Marijuana Act (MMA). For the first time, physicians are able to prescribe marijuana to address one of a number of serious medical conditions.

At least four of the 21 conditions could be considered “work related” conditions:

  • Neuropathies;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain; and
  • Opioid use disorder for which conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective, or for which adjunctive therapy is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions.

Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania: The Basics

To legally use marijuana to treat a medical condition, you must obtain and submit the necessary documentation from a Department of Health registered doctor. Once approved, you will be issued an identification card and placed in the Department of Health’s database. Medical marijuana must be purchased from a designated dispensary.

Medical marijuana comes in a variety of different forms, including: pill, liquid, oil, gel, cream, and ointment. Medical marijuana is also available in a form suitable for vaporization or nebulization. Note that the enumerated list of acceptable forms for medical marijuana does not include a form that can be smoked.

Will Workers’ Compensation Cover a Medical Marijuana Prescription?

The question remains whether the workers’ compensation carrier will cover a prescription for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately for now, it depends on the insurance company. As of date, there are only five states that mandate insurance carriers pay for medical marijuana, and Pennsylvania is not one of them. Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, insurance companies are required to pay for medical treatment that is deemed reasonable, necessary, and causally related to the work injury. Therefore, if medical marijuana is found to be an appropriate form of treatment for your work injury, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier could be forced to cover the expense.

Although this area of law is still in debate, given the addictive nature of opioids, it would benefit both the injured worker and insurance companies if the carrier would be obligated to pay for medical marijuana prescriptions.

Send us a message via our contact form or call (888) 286-2850 to schedule a free consultation with the Metzger Wickersham team. We serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania.

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