New Jersey Township Must Pay for Employee’s Medical Marijuana, Judge Rules

After citing a need to stop “creating addicts” and “killing people,” a New Jersey workers’ compensation judge ordered Freehold Township to compensate an employee for his use of medical marijuana.

“If there’s anything criminal here, it’s how these drugs have been force-fed to injured people creating addicts,” said Lionel Simon, a New Jersey workers’ compensation judge, during the June 28, 2018, hearing. “I believe, and I think the science supports this, medical marijuana is safer, it’s less addictive, [and]it is better for the treatment of pain.”

The move signals a pivotal win for medical cannabis patients in the Garden State, and marks at least the second time a workers’ compensation judge ruled to make an employer pay for an employee’s medical marijuana, according to The New Jersey Law Journal, which reported on the Simon ruling. The journal noted that Simon ordered Freehold Township to pay for petitioner Steven McNeary’s medical marijuana supplies – despite the insurers’ objections over the drug’s scheduled status within the Controlled Substances Act.

Under New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, licensed physicians may certify their patients for the following conditions.

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders
  • Chronic pain of visceral origin
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
  • Migraines
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Terminal cancer
  • Terminal illness, if the physician has determined the patient has less than 12 months to live
  • Tourette syndrome

In evaluating marijuana’s medicinal efficacy and whether its Schedule I status prohibited Simon from utilizing New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Act, the judge ruled:

“I don’t think the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Act is in conflict with [the intent of federal drug statutes]. Certainly I don’t understand how a carrier who will never possess, never distribute, never intend to distribute these products, who will merely sign a check into an attorney’s trust account, is in any way complicit with the distribution of illegal narcotics.

As detailed in the June 28, 2018, transcript of the hearing, Simon concluded ,“I think it’s time for us, as the Division of Compensation, to try to get away from these opioids which are killing people and I don’t say that lightly. They are killing people.”

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