Skip to Content

Workers Comp Insurance Attempts Medicinal Marijuana Denial

Attorney Mark Rufo PC

New Hampshire employees who are hurt while on the job are entitled to apply for workers’ compensation, and if you are denied benefits or a reimbursement you have a right to file an appeal. At the law office of Attorney Mark Rufo, P.C., we understand how insurance providers may hire aggressive claims reviewers whose priorities include finding elaborate reasons for denying your request. If your claim is denied, however, you may file an appeal with the state workers’ comp board or in a civil court. WMUR-TV recently reported on how an appeal made its way to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which found that the state workers’ comp board was wrong to deny an injured Nashua employee reimbursement for medicinal marijuana.

When the 59-year-old chemical employee hurt his back while at work, he applied and was approved for workers’ compensation benefits. The state Health Department later allowed him to participate in a therapeutic cannabis program for the treatment of his back injury. To provide relief for his ongoing pain, he began to use medicinal marijuana, and when he filed a claim with his workers’ comp insurance carrier for reimbursement, it was denied.

After being informed that the medical marijuana was not necessary, he decided to file a petition with the state workers’ compensation appeals board. In response to his petition, the board found that the treatment was medically necessary, and that the cannabis helped eliminate the use of opiates. The board also found, however, that his payments were not reimbursable because marijuana is still classified as an illegal substance under federal law. The appeals board asserted that by providing him with reimbursement, the insurance carrier could face criminal prosecution. This rejection, however, may have been intended as a way to deny workers’ comp insurance payments to an injured employee.

Not satisfied with the appeal board’s decision, the Hillsborough County resident brought his case to the civil circuit. The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in favor of the employee based on the appeals board not citing a federal rule or any legal authority for determining its denial. There was no lawful reason for the workers’ compensation appeals board to deny the employee’s claim for cannabis or medical marijuana, and he was entitled to reimbursement.

Our page on workers’ compensation provides more information on how to file for benefits or an appeal.