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Insurers and Employers Cannot be Required to Pay for Medical Marijuana

March 25, 2021

By Shelley W. Elovitz, Esquire

In the case of Bunty v. Demuth Steel Products (WCAB), the injured worker filed a Penalty Petition for his employer’s failure to pay for his medical expenses. However, the medical expenses in question were medical marijuana. While the Workers Compensation Judge (WCJ) and the Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) found that Mr. Bunty’s use of medical marijuana was reasonable and necessary, they both cited the dichotomy between state and federal law. The federal Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, which is a federal crime to possess. Furthermore, Section 2102 of the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act provides that insurers and health plans cannot be required to pay for medical marijuana. Additionally, Section 2103(b)(3) provides that the Act does not require employers to do anything that would violate federal law.

What does this mean? Under Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act, an insurer or employer cannot be required to pay for medical marijuana even when that use is found to be reasonable and necessary, since requiring the insurer or employer to pay for it would put the insurer or employer at risk for federal prosecution.

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