An injured worker failed to convince an appellate court on Wednesday that his workers' compensation insurer was required to pay for a medical marijuana evaluation or reimburse the drug.
In Jones v. Grace Healthcare Florida District Court of Appeals, First District, a Compensation Judge ruled that requiring an insurance company to pay for or facilitate an injured worker's use of marijuana would subject the insurer to criminal liability. .
Patrick Shawn Jones injured his lower back in a work-related accident in 2001 and received pain relief for chronic pain syndrome. In 2017, he asked to be referred to a doctor who could prescribe him medical marijuana as an alternative to oral painkillers. The insurer denied the claim and the judge on compensation claims concluded that Florida statutes stating that marijuana is not eligible removed the insurer and the employer from any obligation to pay for medical marijuana. The judge also ruled that the charter prohibited compensation for evaluations necessary to obtain a marijuana prescription. Jones appealed.
The Court of Appeal held that the judge correctly ruled that marijuana could not be substituted under Florida statutes, and that an evaluation of marijuana acquisition was also "indisputably irreplaceable."