The Issues with Insurance Coverage and Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has had an increasingly large presence in the United States, with over half the country having access to it. For individuals with chronic health problems, it can be an alternative to opioid-based medications. However, while many of those medications were previously covered by insurance programs, medical marijuana has not seen the same. While there’s been a few instances where medical marijuana has been covered by an insurer, it’s still pretty uncommon.

In one notable case, a New Mexico court ruled in 2014 that an automotive repair shop must pay for an employee’s medical marijuana expenses. The employee was almost completely disabled. Unfortunately, most cases don’t turn out this way though.

There’s a lot of fundamental issues surrounding the medical marijuana industry that makes insurance coverage almost impossible. But why is that? Considering medical marijuana is accepted as a form of treatment by so many, it would only make sense that insurance coverage would be possible. These are the drawbacks to medical marijuana and why many insurers may not cover it.

Medical Marijuana is Federally Illegal

Marijuana continues to sit as a Schedule I drug according to the government, meaning that it holds no medicinal value for people. Other schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy and peyote. That alone is often the big reason why insurance companies refuse to cover it.

Since it’s federally illegal and will probably remain that way for awhile, having a medical card might not do someone any good depending on the position they are aiming for. All government positions are going to be subject to this problem, for example.

Other countries have already began to coverage medical marijuana through insurance, such as Germany and Canada, according to the Stark & Stark New Jersey Law Blog. This is something that the US is still far behind on. However, cannabis laws will probably change as the years go on.

Medical Marijuana is not FDA Regulated

When hemp was recently legalized in 2018, it made the medicinal component of marijuana legal as well, also known as cannabidiol (CBD). But even though this happened, CBD is still subject to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). This means that it still won’t be covered by most insurance companies–medications have to be approved by the FDA.

Marijuana Intoxication Can’t Be Properly Monitored

Marijuana stays in your system longer than any other drug (up to 30 days). And if you’re a habitual smoker, then your system is always going to have marijuana in it. Right now there’s no way to properly test marijuana impairment, which can essentially be a work hazard.

More Legal Uncertainties Regarding Medical Marijuana

Another big problem with this particular industry is that it’s hard to gauge marijuana toxicity. For example, the high potency of edibles that can’t exactly be properly dosed makes for huge issues. On top of that, if an employee gets hurt on the job, their medical marijuana use could cancel out their workers compensation. There’s a lot of gray areas regarding medical marijuana that have yet to be discussed. But there’s an elephant in the room, and eventually it’ll be addressed.

About World Wide Specialty Programs

For the last 50 years, World Wide Specialty Programs has dedicated itself to providing the optimal products and solutions for the staffing industry. As the only insurance firm to be an ASA commercial liability partner, we are committed to that partnership and committed to using our knowledge of the industry to provide staffing firms with the best possible coverage. For more information about Staffing Professional Liability Insurance or any other coverage, we have available to protect your staffing business, give us a call at (800) 245-9653 to speak with one of our representatives.