When medical marijuana became legal in New Jersey, employers and insurance carriers were struggling to figure out their rights and obligations to an injured worker who was prescribed marijuana to treat a work-related injury. So many questions were asked from an employer’s perspective—is this compensable medical treatment? Can the employer pay for medical marijuana without violating federal law? Is the use of medical marijuana on the job, or even off the job, a basis for termination?

Then, as if medical marijuana was not muddying the waters enough in the workplace, New Jersey removes marijuana all together from the controlled substances list effectively making it legal for recreational purposes. This has only created more uncertainty on the part of the employer and insurance carriers and because all of this is so new, the guidance on dealing with these issues is so limited. In fact, the laws on recreational marijuana are still in the process of being written. All that has really been done so far is that it has been removed as a controlled substance. Therefore, it has merely been decriminalized which, in turn, legalizes it. So, it is more important than ever, for both employers and insurance carriers to familiarize themselves with what laws have been put in place and what laws are being proposed so that claims can be managed properly.

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