Back in 2000, Nevada made headlines as being one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana. In November of 2016 Nevada took it a step further and also legalized recreational marijuana. It was a move that has many advocates cheering, but has others scrambling to determine the impacts such legalization will have on a social level, such as the impact it will have on workers compensation claims and how Las Vegas workers compensation attorneys pursue such claims.
Marijuana and Nevada Worker Laws
Since legalization in 2000, Nevada has had a medical marijuana law in place that does not require any employer to allow the use of medical marijuana in the workplace. This has allowed public and private employers to maintain, enact, and enforce a workplace policy prohibiting or restricting employees' marijuana consumption and/or possession. By extension, the current laws passively allow employers to terminate or discipline any employee who violates such a policy by using, possessing, or otherwise being impaired by marijuana onsite.
In 2014, an addendum was added that required employers, in specific circumstances, to make "reasonable accommodations" for employees who hold a valid medical marijuana registry card so long as such accommodations did not pose a threat of harm or danger to others or property.
Furthermore, most or all worker compensation acts protect the employer against claims filed due to self-inflicted employee injuries. In the most immediate sense, a worker who uses marijuana, medical or otherwise, while at their job and is injured, then that employee may be held responsible depending upon the circumstances. Likewise, some studies show long-term use of marijuana can cause brain damage causing overall health impairment leading to a self-inflicted injury even if the user had not recently consumed the drug.
Approving Medical Marijuana for Use After Injury in Workers Compensation
At the other end of the spectrum, many employees who were hurt in a work-related accident are asking their Las Vegas worker compensation attorneys whether they can pursue medical marijuana as a paid treatment in their claim. The waters here are still murky as medical marijuana remains illegal to cultivate, distribute, or possess on the federal level; making marijuana-friendly state laws stand in direct opposition to federal ones.
An employer in a Maine workers compensation case used this federal-state opposition to fight against an employee claim seeking paid marijuana treatment following a back injury. The court sided with the employer.
But in New Mexico, an appellate court ruled that an insurer must pay for the medical marijuana requested by an employee who likewise had a job-related back injury that left them with a 99% permanent partial disability and chronic pain.
Contact the Las Vegas Workers' Compensation Attorneys, GGRM
How your case will fall will depend upon the particulars. It's in your best interest to contact the Las Vegas workers' compensation attorneys of GGRM for more information. Call 702-388-4476 for a free legal consultation and allow us to review your situation and potential claim.