On January 13, 2020, in
Hager v. M&K Construction, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey addressed for the first time whether a workers compensation judge can order an employer to reimburse a claimant/employee for the use of medical marijuana as a workers compensation treatment. The court affirmed a workers compensation judge’s order directing reimbursement, ruling that medical marijuana is a “reasonable and necessary” workers compensation treatment.
In its decision, the court rejected all the employer’s arguments against reimbursement. Notably, the court concluded that the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) does not preempt the state’s medical marijuana law because reimbursement under the state law does not require an employer to possess, manufacture, or distribute marijuana, activities that are prohibited by the CSA.
The court also noted that there was no evidence the employer would face a credible threat of federal prosecution under the CSA for aiding and abetting the employee in the possession of marijuana. The court further rejected the employer’s assertion that workers compensation insurers are the same as private health insurers, which are exempt from covering the costs of medical marijuana under the state’s law.
This decision could be appealed. NCCI will monitor for further developments.
For more information on other cases monitored by NCCI’s Legal Division, visit previous Court Case Updates and
Court Case Insights, under the
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