Medicinal Marijuana And Workers' Compensation: What It Means For Your Claim

With the midterm elections bringing legal marijuana to more states across the United States, it's important to understand what the use of medicinal marijuana can mean in the event of an employer drug test, or even worse, a workers' compensation injury claim. This post will break down the latest information on marijuana use and its effects on workers' compensation.

Can I Be Penalized for a Positive Drug Test?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is still unclear.

Some companies have adopted a more lenient approach to positive drug tests results. For example, increasing the threshold so as not to punish those who partake of the drug off company time. However, whether your workers' compensation claim will be denied due to a positive result varies by state and company.

It's important to remember that while some states may have passed laws making it possible to obtain medicinal marijuana, and even recreational in some states, that marijuana use is still illegal federally. This means that federal employees are likely to have even less protection in the event of a workplace injury.

Can I Refuse Drug Testing?

A major concern for both opponents and proponents of marijuana legalization is the ability to test for the presence of the drug accurately. After all, there's no such thing as a breathalyzer for marijuana, and THC can remain in the blood for up to one month.

However, the refusal to submit to drug testing following a workplace injury may result in the denial of your workers' compensation claim, and in some cases, termination.

Can My Claim Be Denied?

If you've injured yourself in the workplace and the question of sobriety comes up, there may be a chance for the claim to be denied or for your benefits to be significantly reduced. However, this depends entirely on the state.

For example, in Wisconsin, it is possible for your benefit to be reduced up to 15% with a maximum reduction of $15,000 if your employer can prove that your use of alcohol or drugs has led directly to the incident.

Do keep in mind that the burden of proof is on your employer. This means that a drug test must come back positive, but in the case of marijuana where levels can vary, they must also be able to prove your impairment was due to drug use and was a direct cause of your injury.

The only way to truly know your rights, though, is to speak with a workers' compensation attorney in your state. Their knowledge and expertise can help you to navigate the claim process and improve your outcome.