Medical Marijuana and Its Place in New Jersey Workers’ Compensation

In a case of first impression, the New Jersey Appellate Division addressed an employer’s obligation to reimburse an injured employee the costs associated with obtaining medicinal marijuana. In Hager v. M&K Construction, A-01012-18T3 (App. Div. January 13, 2010), the Appellate Court held there was no legislative or legal barrier to an employer reimbursing its injured workers’ expenses for medicinal marijuana, notwithstanding the longstanding Controlled Substances Act.

The Judge of Compensation determined the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes was both reasonable and necessary in the treatment for chronic pain conditions. The Compensation Court’s decision was appealed by both parties. The most significant contention and issue for the Appellate Court surrounded the contradiction between Federal and State Law, namely the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and New Jersey Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act (MMA).

In Hager, our Appellate Courts held the reimbursement of expenses associated with medicinal marijuana was not tantamount to the manufacture, possession or distribution of marijuana. Consequently, reimbursement of the procurement costs neither gave rise to the commission or assistance in the commission of a crime, nor a violation of the CSA by virtue of providing a Schedule I class drug.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding the Hager decision and its potential impact on your pending workers’ compensation claims, please do not hesitate to contact Brown & Connery’s Workers’ Compensation Group.

By: Justin Callow, Associate at Brown & Connery, LLP