Maine’s highest court rules employers can’t be forced to reimburse for medical marijuana

June 14th, 2018 by admin Leave a reply »

Maine’s highest court ruled Thursday that federal laws prevent an employer’s workers compensation fund from being forced to pay for medical marijuana treatments.

The court, in a 5-2 vote, said its ruling should be considered narrowly, based on a case in which a paper company employee wanted his employer’s worker’s compensation fund to pay for his use of medical marijuana to treat pain from a back injury.

The worker, who suffered a total disability, filed a claim six years ago, seeking to have the company, Twin Rivers in Madawaska, pay for his medical marijuana after his use of prescription painkillers provided him no relief. The company refused, saying that the federal Controlled Substances Act barred it from paying for marijuana.

The Maine Workers Compensation board had sided with the worker, Gaetan Bourgoin, but the company went to court to try to overturn that ruling.

The Supreme Court based its decision primarily on the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which said that in conflicts between state and federal laws, federal law should prevail. Two justices dissented, saying they saw no conflict.

The court focused on the workers comp board ruling that would have required Twin Rivers to pay for the employee’s medical marijuana. The ruling cited cases in states that differentiated between exempting a patient from prosecution under state law for the use of medical marijuana and requiring employers to take steps that run afoul of federal laws on marijuana.

“A person’s right to use medical marijuana cannot be converted into a sword that

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