U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Cases Seeking Workers’ Comp for Medical Cannabis

1.7 min readPublished On: June 24th, 2022By

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The US Supreme Court’s justices have declined to take a position on whether or not workers’ compensation insurance policies should cover the costs of employees’ medical cannabis-related expenses.  Following differing opinions from multiple state supreme courts, litigants requested the Court’s involvement.

In a friend-of-the-court (amicus) brief, Empire State NORML and two other organizations—the New York City Cannabis Industry Association and the Hudson Valley Cannabis Industry—urged the Supreme Court to take the case and use it as an opportunity to resolve more general conflicts between state and federal cannabis laws.

The denial of certiorari demonstrates that the majority of justices did not think the high court should examine the decisions of the lower courts.

“By declining to take up the case, SCOTUS only further exacerbated the split between the highest state courts as it continues to evade the fundamental question with regard to cannabis’ medical validity, a key factor in the Schedule I designation,” said David C. Holland, Esq., Executive and Legal Director of Empire State NORML and author of the brief. The New York and Hudson Valley Cannabis Industry Associations and Empire State NORML will continue to support the legal actions that will ultimately result in an end to the problem.

In 2021, courts in three different jurisdictions supported employees’ right to receive cash payments from their employers for using medical cannabis, while a court in a fourth state rejected the claim.

Currently, five states explicitly let employees to get reimbursement for their medical cannabis-related expenses: Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York. In contrast, seven states — Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, and Washington — expressly forbid workers’ compensation insurance from covering expenses associated with medical cannabis.

In all other countries, the law either makes no mention of the matter or specifies that insurers are “not compelled” to pay workers’ compensation claims costs for employees who use medical cannabis.

The fact sheet “Cannabis Legalization and Impact on the Workplace” by NORML provides more information on cannabis-related workplace difficulties.

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