The New Jersey Supreme Court company must pay the employee’s medical marijuana cost
The New Jersey Supreme Court has just ruled that a construction company must pay all monthly medical cannabis costs for a former employee, setting a precedent protecting employee access to medical pots.
This decision is the final word in a lengthy legal battle between M&K Construction and one of its former employees, Vincent Hager. In 2001, Hager was injured while on a regular shift when a cement truck poured wet concrete over him. This accident left Hager with a herniated disc, damage to the spinal nerve and chronic back and leg pain.
Hager had to undergo several surgeries because of his injury and eventually became addicted to opioid drugs that were prescribed for him because of the pain. When New Jersey expanded its medical cannabis program in 2017, Hager was able to replace these addictive substances with a medicinal pot. Unfortunately, the Garden State has some of the highest prices for medical marijuana in the nation, and Hager had to pay over $ 600 a month for his new medicine.
Since federal law continues to prohibit cannabis, neither private health insurers nor state health care programs will cover the cost of medical pots. So Hager filed a lawsuit with the state demanding that his former employee reimburse him for these costs. Eventually, an employee compensation judge ruled that M&K actually had to pay for the drug, but the company appealed.
In her case, M&K argued that covering the cost of medical marijuana could provide support and assistance in an illegal drug purchase that could get her into hot water with the government. In January last year, an appeals court ruled that the company could not be found guilty of this federal crime because it did not buy the weed directly and it was Hager. For these reasons, the appeals court agreed that M & K must bear Hager’s costs.
M & K was not content to live with either court’s decision and appealed the case again. This Tuesday, the state Supreme Court gave the last word on the matter and voted unanimously to uphold the decisions of the lower courts. Now that every appeal has been exhausted, the company is hired to cover its former employee’s medical marijuana costs.
“We agree with the Compensation Court and Appeals Division that the exemption of workers ‘compensation insurers from responsibility for workers’ medical marijuana costs is contrary to the express findings of lawmakers in the Compassionate Use Act and the traditional broad, liberal application of workers in the New Jersey stands. Compensation system, ”wrote the court in its opinion, reports NORML.
This decision sets a precedent that is likely to protect other employees’ access to medical marijuana across the state. And now that New Jersey has voted to end the cannabis ban entirely, injured workers have even better access to their medicines.