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January 17, 2020

New Jersey Court Holds that Employer Must Reimburse Employee for Cost of Medical Marijuana Prescription

A New Jersey appellate court recently held that an employee who suffered a work related injury was entitled to reimbursement for a medical marijuana prescription. The employee was working for a construction company when a truck delivering concrete dumped a load on him, resulting in injuries causing chronic pain and leaving the employee permanently disabled. Initially, the employee was prescribed opioid painkillers, but the prescription was switched to a monthly marijuana prescription after several surgical procedures and long term use of opioids. The employer argued that it should not have to pay for the marijuana prescription because payment was preempted by federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which outlawed marijuana. The appeals court reasoned that the CSA would only preempt state law if it required the performance of actions specifically prohibited by the law.  Because reimbursing the cost of the marijuana prescription did not require the employer to "manufacture, possess, or distribute marijuana,” the court held there was no conflict.