Delaware Court Upholds Denial of Workers’ Compensation for Medical Marijuana

Delaware Court Upholds Denial of Workers’ Compensation for Medical Marijuana

Workers’ compensation insurance is provided to many employees in order to help cover certain costs due to work-related injuries or illnesses. This can include medical costs and treatment. For many in today’s day and age, they may be prescribed medical marijuana as a form of treatment. In Delaware, the state’s Medical Marijuana Program allows for the drug to be used safely and effectively to registered patients. However, if medical marijuana costs are compensable for a workers’ compensation claim is a contested issue.

According to the Delaware Superior Court, whether or not medical marijuana treatment is reasonable and necessary to be covered under workers’ compensation law turned on an individualized inquiry. In Nobles-Roark v. Back Burner, Case No. N19A-11-001 ALR, an employee sustained a back injury at work and received various treatments for pain management. This included medical marijuana. The employee filed a petition for additional workers’ compensation benefits for the expenses due to their medical marijuana treatment, as Delaware’s workers’ compensation law states medical treatments are compensable if they are “reasonable and necessary.”

At the Industrial Accident Board (IAB) hearing, the employer and employee presented medical expert testimony. The employer’s expert testified that the employee was not a good candidate for medical marijuana treatment because of unrelated health conditions. The IAB found this claim to be more credible and denied the employee’s claim. The employee appealed on the basis that the IAB’s decision was inconsistent with the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act, stating marijuana has therapeutic value and the IAB improperly accepted the employer’s expert testimony. 

The court rejected the employee’s arguments, explaining that the issue was not whether the employee may use medical marijuana, but if they would have to pay for it themselves. Therefore, the court ruled in this case that the IAB did not err by denying the employee’s claim for medical marijuana costs despite lawfully obtaining the treatment under state law. The notion that medical treatment is “reasonable and necessary” under the Workers’ Compensation Law is considered on an individual basis. It is because of this that the state’s acknowledgement that medical marijuana is effective for treating some patients does not mandate a finding that it is effective for all patients. 

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If you have become the victim of an on the job injury, it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney and the doctor that is treating you to determine how to make the process as easy as possible. AllianceMeds understands that a workplace accident can be challenging and is here to help. We will deliver your medication to your door using overnight delivery and cover any out of pocket expenses that may arise. If you have any questions about how we can help, contact AllianceMeds today.