Medical Marijuana Found Compensable in Connecticut

The Compensation Review Board (CRB) in Connecticut found medical marijuana to be reasonable and necessary medical treatment, and thus, compensable in Petrini v. Marcus Dairy, Inc., 6021 CRB-7-15-7 (May 12, 2016). It is black letter law that “reasonable and necessary” medical care is curative or remedial. “Curative or remedial care is that which seeks to repair the damage to health caused by the job even if not enough health is restored to enable the employee to return to work. Any therapy designed to keep the employee at work or to return him to work is curative.” Haskos v. Nroe-Ernest DePalma, 3421 CRB-3-96-9 (January 22, 1998).

In Petrini, the claimant sustained a lower back injury that resulted in failed surgery rendering him totally disabled. He had been taking Nucynta, Methadone, Cyclobenzaprine, Clonazepam, Oxycodone-APA, Opana, Fentanyl, Lidoderm Patches, Alprazolam, Lexapro, Percocet, and Oxycontin, with mixed results and left him with numerous negative side effects such as lethargy, possible tooth loss, nausea, irritability, weight gain, insomnia, and stress. In 2014, the claimant began taking medical marijuana, which he said “dramatically” lessened his pain and symptoms, along with allowing him to become more engaged in his children’s lives, better help with cooking and housecleaning, and being able to assist other family members. Accordingly, the CRB held that the use of medical marijuana was reasonable and necessary medical treatment. It should also be noted that the 2.5 ounces of medical grade marijuana cost $1,488.90 per month, which is significantly less than opioids.

We currently advise to evaluate all aspects of the claim before vigorously contesting the use of medical marijuana because its use may be in the best interests of the claimant and the respondent.

It should also be noted that in order for a treating physician to certify a patient for medical marijuana, the physician must establish the following as outlined with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection:

  • Completed a medically reasonable assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition;
  • Diagnosed the patient as having a debilitating medical condition;
  • Prescribed, or determined it is not in the best interest to prescribe, prescription drugs to address the symptoms or effects for which the certification is being issued;
  • Concluded that, in the physician’s medical opinion, the potential benefits of the palliative use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks to the patient; and
  • Explained the potential risks and benefits of the palliative use of marijuana to the patient or, where the patient lacks legal capacity, to the parent, guardian or other person having legal custody of the patient.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection’s list of debilitating medical conditions, in part, as follows:

  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity;
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder;
  • Post Laminectomy Syndrome with chronic radiculopathy; and
  • Complex regional pain syndrome.

Leave a Reply

Next ArticleIf the “Last Act” to Trigger Employment Occurred Outside N.C., The Claim May Not Be Compensable