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Can a workers’ compensation judge in New Jersey require an employer to reimburse an injured worker for medical marijuana used to control chronic pain?

Yes. The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey ruled on Jan. 13, 2020, that a workers’ compensation judge can order an employer to reimburse an injured worker for the cost of medical marijuana prescribed to control the worker’s chronic pain.

The employee’s doctor provided the necessary documentation for enrollment under the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA). The appellate court found no conflict between the CUMMA and the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The order does not require the employer to possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana in violation of the CSA.

The use of medical marijuana must be reasonable and necessary. The employee can show that prior surgeries and pain medications, such as Oxycodone, were unsuccessful at controlling his or her pain. The employee can then present his or her doctor’s opinion that medical marijuana is helping alleviate chronic pain and is a better option than opioids.

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