In this case of first impression, the court considers whether a workers' compensation judge can order an employer to reimburse its employee for the employee's use of medical marijuana prescribed for chronic pain following a work-related accident.
Because the court concludes the order does not require M&K to possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana, but only to reimburse petitioner for his purchase of medical marijuana, the court discerns no conflict between the federal Controlled Substance Act, (CSA), 21 U.S.C. § 841, which makes it a crime to manufacture, possess or distribute marijuana, and the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (MMA), N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1 to -29.
Furthermore, M&K's compliance with the order does not establish the specific intent element of an aiding and abetting offense under federal law. The court also concludes M&K is not a private health insurer. Therefore, it is not excluded under the MMA from reimbursing the costs of medical marijuana.
Here, where petitioner has demonstrated the severity and chronic nature of his pain, his attempts to unsuccessfully alleviate the pain with multiple surgeries and medical modalities, and the validated efficacy of the prescribed medical marijuana, the court finds the use of medical marijuana is reasonable and necessary. Finding no legislative or legal barrier to an employer's reimbursement of its employee's expense for medical marijuana in a workers' compensation setting, the court affirms the order.