Thirty-six states in America have legalized cannabis for medical use, and an estimated 3.6 million individuals are registered as medical cannabis patients in the United States. However, federal law classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical use; cannabis is ranked right alongside hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Consequently, insurance companies refuse to cover individuals who use medical cannabis to treat work-related injuries. Instead, most of these patients have to pay for their medical cannabis out of pocket.
In Pennsylvania, however, a workers’ compensation judge made a historic and possibly precedent-setting ruling after declaring that an employee who was hurt while on the job and used medical marijuana to ease her pain deserved to be compensated by her former employer’s insurance provider. According to the plaintiff’s lawyer, Dana Kaufman from Kaufman Workers’ Compensation Law, this is the first time there has been such a ruling in Pennsylvania. Kaufman, whose firm operates out of Abington Township, has been trying to help her clients recover the costs they incurred after using cannabis to treat pain caused by workplace injuries. Until now, she has been unsuccessful.
Kaufman’s client, a home health aide, suffered serious injuries in a car accident that occurred as she drove from one client’s residence to another. After a car veered into her lane and hit her head on, her car flipped, and she was trapped inside, grievously injured, for 20 minutes. She suffered a trio of broken ribs as well as fractures to her legs, toes, and foot; she also sustained injuries to her hands and wrist. She was admitted to a trauma hospital for 10 days, and although she eventually recovered, she was left with nerve pain in one ankle and a leg that caused her immense pain and often woke her up at night.
Since she didn’t want to rely on opioids and other drugs that had side effects which made her unable to work effectively, she turned to a medical cannabis oil that she put into capsules and took daily. This reduced her pain enough for her to work two jobs as a daycare attendant and a home health aide for a cumulative 32 hours a week. Judge Rochelle Quiggle at the Pottsville, Pennsylvania, field office ruled that the plaintiff’s claims were more than reasonable and ordered her former boss’ insurance provider to pay her back around $4,000 and cover her medical marijuana costs ($400 a month) moving forward.
This is Kaufman’s first such win, and she says that she has several pending appeals at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and Commonwealth Court. Although it is now common knowledge that opioids have plenty of negative side effects, with even some insurance companies refusing to cover certain pharmaceutical pain relievers, those companies still won’t cover medical cannabis costs. She hopes that this ruling will change this trend and push more insurance providers to cover individuals using medical-grade cannabis to treat work-related injuries.
As more companies such as XPhyto Therapeutics Corp. (CSE: XPHY) (OTCQB: XPHYF) (FSE: 4XT) take their cannabis-based formulations through the clinical trial process, a time may come when insurers will cover cannabis medicines since they will have gone through the regulatory process.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to XPhyto Therapeutics Corp. (CSE: XPHY) (OTCQB: XPHYF) (FSE: 4XT) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/XPHYF
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