All Employers with NH Employees
March 7, 2019
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The New Hampshire Supreme Court recently stated that a workers’ compensation carrier could not deny an employee’s request for reimbursement of medical marijuana to treat a work-related injury. In the Appeal of Andrew Panaggio, an employee suffered a lower back injury that resulted in permanent impairment and ongoing pain. He was prescribed opioids to treat the pain, but due to negative side effects, he was later issued a cannabis registration card authorizing medical marijuana use. However, the workers’ compensation carrier denied payment of the medical marijuana, alleging that it was not “reasonable/necessary or causally related” to the work injury.
In reviewing the case, the Supreme Court stated that the New Hampshire legislature did not preclude the workers’ compensation carrier from reimbursing the cost of the medical marijuana. While other states explicitly precluded medical marijuana from being compensable treatment (such as Florida, Michigan, and North Dakota), there was no similar language in New Hampshire that excluded medical marijuana. The Supreme Court treated the larger question of whether or not medical marijuana costs could be denied on the basis that marijuana is illegal under federal law in a similar manner. According to the Supreme Court, the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board did not clearly articulate a legal basis for denying payment of medical marijuana. As such, the court remanded the case for the Appeals Board for further explanation of its decision to deny reimbursement based on federal law.
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