Small victory for medical marijuana proponents

Michigan Court of Appeals ruling could signal big changes in workers compensation.

The Michigan Court of Appeals has issued a fascinating decision regarding medical marijuana. Employees who are fired after testing positive for drugs can still collect unemployment benefits. This decision has the potential for serious ramifications in the workplace and we anticipate it will be appealed.

The issue of medical marijuana has been controversial since it was approved by Michigan voters in a 2008 ballot initiative. We have seen employers take a very strong position against use in the workplace.

Workers Compensation

Workers compensation is supposed to pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment. This includes doctor visits, hospitalizations, surgery, physical therapy, prosthetics, and medications. It does not include medical marijuana as this was specifically exempted from the Act in 2012.

Testing positive for marijuana or another illegal drug could be a basis for disputing workers compensation benefits. However, it is not automatic as the drug use must have played a role in the workplace accident. It should never be assumed that an employee was intoxicated just because he or she failed a drug test.

Employers can also challenge workers compensation benefits if an employee was fired after violating a company rule or established policy. The idea is that light-duty work is available but for the actions of the employee. Many employers have a strict policy against employees using marijuana.

Marijuana is a controversial issue and many people oppose its legalization. Others believe it is essential to treat individuals with specific medical conditions. We expect more litigation as this issue continues to get more attention.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

Rick Braska v Challenge Manufacturing Company

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by tharms5.

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