Medical Malpractice

How Medical Marijuana Laws Can Make Worker’s Compensation Murky

There are very specific laws in place when it comes to personal injury and workers’ compensation. The thing about the law is that it has to adjust to changes in society and keep up with court decisions. Recent rulings around the nation related to the use of medical marijuana are likely to muck up many court cases that once would have been clear cut.

One of the states having to redefine the laws regarding marijuana use and workers’ compensation claims is Ohio. When House Bill 523 was signed into law making it legal for individuals to use medical marijuana for the management of certain illnesses, it turned the medical industry, pot growing industry, and workers’ compensation insurance legalities, on their ear.

Those who are registered with the state and have been deemed legal to take marijuana are not subject to either arrest or criminal charges to be levied against them for the possession of pot or any paraphernalia used for administration. There are, however, restrictions on when they can operate a vehicle, aircraft, or watercraft while being impaired. Similarly, they are not allowed to use marijuana while on the job if their employers are in opposition to useAlthough not directly impacted through any legislative changes, many are fearing that workers’ compensation may be challenged due to the legality of medical marijuana. Currently, a worker is not entitled to any workers’ compensation if it can be proven that they were hurt on the job due to the impairment from taking marijuana. If it can be proven that their death or injury was due to have proximate cause from taking the pot, they will not be entitled to any benefits.

Medical Marijuana Laws

Impairment is defined by testing the amount of trace THC in the blood, which remains an extremely gray area. Also, according to work injury lawyer Los Angeles, employers do not have to give permission to their employees to take marijuana while at their position. They don’t have to accommodate for it or allow it either.

Employers also have the right to discharge anyone who they find using medical marijuana while at work. They also can discipline them and demote them to a lower position if they find they are under the influence during working hours.

Just as before, employers still have the right to randomly drug test employees regardless if they can legally use medical marijuana or not. It is an employer’s right to enforce drug testing, workplace policies, and drug-related policies while in the workplace. In fact, the creation of rules is integral to cover the employer should a personal injury suit arise.

The law also negates the employer of any responsibility for refusing to hire someone who takes medical marijuana, nor can they be sued for relieving someone of their post due to pot use. The employer has a right to instill a “zero policy” rule, whereby, if the employee is found with any trace of THC in their blood, employers have the right for immediate dismissal without reprise.

To many, that seems like giving people suffering from an illness the tools to function normally in the world, but not allowing them to use them. There are no laws in place about the use of pain medication while on the job. Some insist that medical marijuana should have special protections. The lack of laws protecting those who are legally using marijuana for medical purposes may be due to stigma more than any real risk.

The reason for the passing of marijuana for medical purposes is that it is allowing many who have been suffering from pain and illness to lead a more productive and quality life. If they aren’t allowed to use it to return to work, or while on the job, the legalization of it does nothing to help the patient, but to save them from going to prison if they are found carrying it.

In the same respect, marijuana does impair some individuals, and for some occupations, it could make their job dangerous and increase the risk to the employer of personal injury lawsuits or workers’ compensation claims. For now, the use of medical marijuana will have to be an agreement made between a worker and employer. Hopefully, legalizing it will help to change stigmas about its use and once employers begin to see how it relieves the pain of millions of sufferers, it will become more acceptable and allowed in the workplace under certain circumstances.