On October 13, the Supreme Court of Minnesota barred an employee from getting reimbursed for medical marijuana treatment for a work-related injury.1] Although the employee was entitled to reimbursement from her employer under state law, the court found that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) preempted state law. The decision highlights the latest episode of tension between marijuana’s federal listing as a Schedule I controlled substance — which includes drugs with “no currently accepted medical treatment use” — and states that have authorized marijuana for medical treatment.
In 2003, Susan Musta suffered an on-the-job injury to her neck. She underwent years of treatment, then surgery, and finally prescription narcotics for continuing pain. In 2019, Musta’s doctor certified her to participate in Minnesota’s medical marijuana program. Musta sought reimbursement for the cost of the treatment, her employer opposed, and the state agency ordered the employer to reimburse Musta for medical marijuana. No one disputed that her medical marijuana complied with state law, and all agreed it was “reasonable, medically necessary, and causally related to her work injury.” Her employer instead argued that reimbursing her would be a crime under federal law.
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