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Can My Worker's Comp Claim be Denied for Marijuana Use?

California was at the forefront of medical and recreational marijuana legalization, but the drug remains controlled federally. With the state legalization and decriminalization of recreational and medical marijuana, issues of worker’s compensation have become extremely complicated. While an employee may be allowed to consume marijuana legally according to the laws of the State of California, that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues. Like alcohol, marijuana is a legal substance, but employers are allowed to have regulations regarding on-premises consumption or workplace intoxication.

If an employee is injured at work, marijuana influence could hurt compensation benefits. Marijuana usage and workplace injuries are increasingly complicated areas of worker’s compensation regulation, and recreational drug usage could lead to difficult and varied claim determinations. For employees, it can seem like favoritism and inequality if one employee is denied benefits and another is not. Varying determinations can be a cause for attorney investigation of your claim.

Marijuana Usage and Worker’s Compensation Claim Complications

Marijuana usage falls into two categories, recreational and medical. If marijuana is part of a medical treatment plan, the way your case would be handled could change. Recreational marijuana use would be likened to after-hours activities, like alcohol usage that should be limited when at work. If an employee is intoxicated at the time of a workplace incident, a worker’s compensation claim could be denied with just cause. While many employees and advocates argue the effects of marijuana cannot be directly compared to alcohol impairment. Marijuana may not impair a user in the same way as alcohol, but it does lead to impairment that could create dangerous workplace conditions. Many side effects of marijuana influence, like slowed reaction, inability to concentrate, or drowsiness can be linked to workplace injury. On these grounds, marijuana usage could be the grounds for a worker’s compensation denial.

Are Rules Different for Medicinal Marijuana?

When marijuana is used as part of a medical treatment plan, the issues become even more complicated. Employees have the right to take medication during work, but that doesn’t mean they are immune to the consequences of their actions while working. Many medications have side effects, so marijuana is not unique in that respect. When an employee has been prescribed medication that could lead to impairment, they are duty bound to report this impairment to their employer. If your work responsibilities require you to drive a vehicle, you would need to notify your employer of your medical reasons for impairment. If you fail to inform your employer and then cause a workplace incident leading to injuries, the argument will be made that the employee is responsible for the unsafe workplace actions and the results of those actions. The knowing creation of unsafe working conditions can be grounds for a worker’s compensation denial.

Alvandi Law Group Worker’s Compensation Representation

Issues of marijuana and worker’s compensation claims are complicated post-legalization and decriminalization, but that doesn’t mean employees have to bear the weight of the ambiguity. If you’ve been denied worker’s compensation benefits, there may be grounds to appeal your decision. The worker’s compensation attorneys at Alvandi Law Group can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Our team is available now for a consultation. Call (800) 980-6905 today to schedule an appointment or visit our website for more information.


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