Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Nonsense of Pot in Comp

Marijuana for medicinal purposes is like prescribing alcohol for treatment.

It's just bullshit.

The real bottom line is that there are absolutely no scientifically controlled, peer reviewed, high quality studies that confirm pot is good at treating anything.

There just isn't.

There's anecdotal evidence of course.

Sure, it might make the "patient" feel better in the short term, but so does alcohol. Both have limitations on efficacy, both were illegal at some point, both gave rise to significant underground economies, both are highly susceptible to abuse, neither are controlled as to dosage, and both come in a wide variety of strengths.

New Mexico's experimentation with marijuana in the workers' compensation setting is providing a valuable lesson for the other states - write the laws now declaring pot un-reimbursable.

I'm all in favor of just legalizing pot for recreational purposes. The same scientific void as to efficacy for treatment also fails to show there is any risk to health greater than alcohol or tobacco, and the tax revenue potential could be enormous.

While New Mexico is going so far as to set up a reimbursement schedule, the fact is that none of the treatment guidelines that are widely followed in state work comp systems recognize weed as a valid treatment option.

New Mexico law is decades behind other states in describing what is "reasonable and necessary" medical treatment, which is how the courts surmised that if the patient says pot works then it must be paid for.

Which of course is ludicrous.

The same courts would not condone abusive dosages of opioids under that same theory.

New Mexico regulators figured they had better nip the issue at the bud (all pun intended) by coming up with a reimbursement schedule, which also includes an ad hominy dosage schedule (an allocation which, by the way, is unbelievably liberal - that much pot means someone's stoned 24/7/365...).

General health doesn't have this problem because there is no law out there that says a health insurance company has to pay for pot. The relationship is nearly completely contractually controlled, and in most cases those contracts provide for treatment per recognized guidelines.

Workers' compensation does not have that luxury. Workers' compensation is statutorily controlled, and there is no room for contractual restriction or modification on a personal basis with the consumer.

Consequently, when the law is interpreted by the courts, particularly New Mexico courts, the conclusion is that if the injured worker says it works, and nothing else does, then it must be paid for.

New Mexico will have to statutorily define the role of pot in workers' compensation if the state wishes to put some boundaries around the issue.

All of the other states should do so now before they end up in the same vortex of insanity that New Mexico is going through.

Declaring pot unwelcome in workers' compensation will probably draw the ire of pot advocates, and they are a growing and vocal segment of society with some votes (and a lot of money) behind them.

But work comp, for better or worse, is a political football used to make deals in unrelated matters. The deal should be centered around the legalization of pot for recreational purposes, but also declaring that it is not a part of the workers' compensation system.

There's no place for pot in work comp and states need to declare that policy now before the issue finds a slippery slope in court rooms.


  1. Marinol is used in Workers Comp all the time.

  2. YOU need to light up and relax a bit. WHATS killing comp, is conservatives that run it.

  3. POT is what has kept me from killing my abusers in workers comp. BE thankful for it, for it's saving adjusters and Dr.s lives.