On the eve of voters deciding whether to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey the State Assembly Appropriations Committee advanced bill A1708. This bill would require workers' compensation carriers and personal injury protection (PIP) auto insurance benefits to cover the cost of medical marijuana when appropriate for medical use. Specifically the proposed legislation states in part:
This coincides with The Supreme Court of New Jersey preparing to hear oral argument in the case of Hager v. M&K Construction, 462 N.J. Super. 146 (App. Div.), cert. granted, 241 N.J. 484 (2020). In Hager the Appellate Division ruled that an employer’s workers’ compensation must cover the cost of medical marijuana. In that case the court specifically addressed the issue of a conflict with federal law or the Controlled Substance Act (C.S.A) and held that requiring a workers’ compensation carrier to reimburse an injured worker for the cost would not place them in violation of the CSA. Meanwhile in Massachusetts the Supreme Court there held the opposite on October 27th , or that ordering a carrier to pay for the cost of medical marijuana would place them in violation of the CSA.
The legislation appears to be codifying the holding in Hager, in the face of a potential adverse ruling by the Supreme Court. We will keep you apprised of any developments with regard to these issues but for the time being the Appellate Division’s decision in Hager is controlling.