The U.S. Supreme Court is requesting that the federal government give its opinion on whether federal law affords protections to employers that don’t cover medical cannabis costs for workers who have been injured on the job, even in states where its legal.
State courts arrived at different conclusions on this during a discussion on cases concerning employees in Minnesota who sought worker’s compensation for medical marijuana expenses after they were hurt while on the job. This led the Supreme Court to request that the solicitor general weigh in on the matter, which is a significant development in cases that may be determined based on an interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy clause.
This comes after the Supreme Court in Minnesota gave its ruling in 2021, stating that both worker’s compensation claims filed were invalid due to the status of cannabis under Schedule I, in the Controlled Substances Act. In one of these cases, Daniel Bierbach, who sustained injuries while working for an all-terrain vehicle firm, was denied compensation for medical cannabis.
In the other case, Susan Musta, the plaintiff, submitted a petition after the highest court in her state determined that the Controlled Substances Act did mean that her employer wasn’t required to offer reimbursement for medical marijuana after the plaintiff was injured at her workplace.
The Hudson Valley Cannabis Industry Association, the New York City Cannabis Industry Association, and NORML filed amici curiae briefs after this decision, requesting the court to hear this case in December 2021. Soon after this, Bierbach filed his writ of certiorari petition, arguing that because employers weren’t required to manufacture, possess or distribute marijuana, simply offering workers compensation for cannabis wasn’t prevented by the Controlled Substances Act.
Both cases were brought before a recently held Supreme Court conference, leading the justices to seek input from the federal government. The justices requested the solicitor general to file a brief on the cases, expressing the views of the U.S. government.
The state of Minnesota isn’t the only state where this issue has been raised and taken to court. In Maine, courts came to a similar conclusion. Other high courts in states such as New Jersey and New Hampshire ruled that reimbursing medical cannabis was valid, despite marijuana’s federal prohibition.
More stakeholders are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to settle this debate once and for all, especially with the increasing number of legal cases on these conflicts on worker’s compensation obstacles and the spread of the cannabis legalization movement at the state level.
Once the Supreme Court makes a final decision on whether employees can file for reimbursement of the costs incurred in buying medical marijuana after workplace accidents, a lot more people will access medicinal products manufactured by licensed sector players such as American Cannabis Partners since insurance companies will have no reason not to cover such costs.
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