Pennsauken, NJ (Law Firm Newswire) May 21, 2018 – A South Jersey worker who suffered from a hand injury on the job has won a ruling in which his employer’s workers’ compensation insurance must pay his medical marijuana bills.
Andrew Watson, a resident of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey was one of only a few people to get a medical marijuana recommendation in 2014 due to his hand injury incurred on the job with 84 Lumber in Pleasantville. The cannabis allowed him to start weaning off his opiates and to increase functionality in his daily life.
Watson thought his employer’s workers compensation insurance would help him out with his bills due to a work-related injury. He purchased 2 ¼ ounces of cannabis in the spring of 2014, but immediately stopped consuming the marijuana when he realized his employer was not going to pay for it.
After listening to Watson’s statements, Administrative Law Judge Ingrid L. French said, “the effects of the marijuana, in many ways, is not as debilitating as the effects of the Percocet. The pharmacy records show that, ultimately [Watson] was able to reduce his use of oral narcotic medication.”
The judge continued, “As a result of his improved pain management, he has achieved a greater level of functionality . . . His approach to pain management [is] cautious, mature and overall he is exceptionally conscientious in managing his pain.”
John Carvelli, 84 Lumber’s insurance carrier’s attorney, said the company “respects the court decision.”
Philip Faccenda, Watson’s lawyer, was “very pleased” with the decision. Faccenda pressed on, though, explaining that the decision “has not broadened” the medical marijuana laws of New Jersey that confine access to cannabis to “a very limited number of conditions and injuries.”
In New Jersey, obtaining medical marijuana is not simple. One must have a serious ailment, like HIV, cancer, muscular dystrophy, a terminal illness or PTSD. People of New Jersey with common disorders treated in other states including migraines, anxiety and chronic pain are still fighting for the right to obtain medical recommendations.
Moreover, New Jersey has the most expensive price on medical cannabis in the country. One ounce of marijuana can cost anywhere from $425 to $520 with the average being $489. This does not include the state’s seven percent sales tax.
The ruling in Watson’s case will most likely not heavily impact employers in the future. It is rare that an employee is so disabled from a work injury that they qualify for both medical marijuana and workers’ compensation.
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