Cannabis in the Workplace

March 22, 2019

The legalization of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania has given rise to many questions regarding cannabis in the workplace. For example, how does medical marijuana affect workers’ compensation? The answer largely depends on the circumstances of each case, as the law in this area is still relatively unsettled. The Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. pride themselves on staying abreast of all legal developments and remain dedicated to upholding the rights of injured workers throughout the state.

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act

Under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act (MMA), medical marijuana is permitted for the treatment of certain chronic conditions. An applicant may obtain medicinal marijuana by first registering a profile in the Medical Marijuana Registry and presenting a Pennsylvania driver’s license or identification card issued by the state Department of Transportation (DOT).

An approved physician must then certify that the applicant is suffering from a qualifying medical condition. Once physician certification has been obtained, the applicant may apply for a medical marijuana card, which they may present to obtain medical marijuana.

Qualifying conditions under the MMA include:

  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Terminal illnesses

Discrimination is Prohibited

The MMA also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their certification to use medical marijuana. Although employers are not required to make accommodation for the use of medical marijuana, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with qualifying disabilities.

Courts have so far been unwilling to apply ADA protections to medical marijuana cases because any marijuana use, medical or recreational, remains illegal under federal law. However, the law in this area continues to evolve; medical marijuana could soon be seen as a less addictive, cost-effective alternative to prescription medications such as opioids.

Is Medical Marijuana Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?

The MMA does not indicate that medical marijuana is covered by workers’ compensation insurance. In fact, it explicitly states that workers’ compensation insurers are not required to provide coverage for medical marijuana.

However, under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), workers are entitled to compensation for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to their workplace injuries. Such expenses may include surgeries, prescription medications, rehabilitative therapy, and other benefits. Therefore, if a doctor recommends medical marijuana as a reasonable and necessary treatment for a worker’s injury, the worker should be able to collect compensation for that treatment, according to the Act.

However, because courts have not had many opportunities to clarify the law on this particular issue, these types of workers’ compensation cases can be complicated. It is advisable for workers to speak with an experienced attorney in their area who can parse the unique complexities of their case.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Workers Obtain Coverage for Medical Expenses

If your doctor recommended medical marijuana as treatment for your workplace injury, you may be eligible to have those expenses covered by workers’ compensation. Contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. to discuss your case. Our attorneys have over 35 years of experience representing all types of workers in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.

We proudly represent injured workers in Berks CountyBucks CountyChester CountyDelaware CountyMontgomery CountyPhiladelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of AbingtonAmblerArdmoreBala CynwydBensalemClifton HeightsCrum Lynne, DarbyDowningtownDoylestownDrexel HillEssington, FolcroftGlenoldenHaverfordHavertownHolmesKutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion StationMorton, Narberth, Norristown, NorwoodPhiladelphiaProspect Park, QuakertownReadingRoxboroughSharon HillUpper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.