A New Jersey lumberyard worker was injured on the job, and a state administrative law judge has ruled that the worker’s compensation insurance company must pay for the injured worker’s medical marijuana. This marks the first decision of its kind in New Jersey, and only the 2nd in the U.S.
The Egg Harbor Township resident qualified for medical marijuana following a severe hand injury suffered at work, according to NJ.com. The injured worker, Andrew Watson, purchased his own marijuana. He used his own money, but his employer refused to pay for it, so he had to stop using it because he couldn’t afford it. In New Jersey, an ounce averages around $489 per ounce, plus the 7-percent state sales tax.
The answer that Administrative Law Judge Ingrid L. French gave was, in part, “The effects of the marijuana, in many ways, is not as debilitating as the effects of the Percocet. The pharmacy records show that, ultimately (Watson) was able to reduce his use of oral narcotic medication.”
Judge French went on further to say, “As a result of his improved pain management, he has achieved a greater level of functionality, his approach to his pain management needs (is) cautious, mature and overall he is exceptionally conscientious in managing his pain.”
The remainder of Judge French’s comments read: “The evidence presented in these proceedings show that the petitioner’s ‘trial’ use of medicinal marijuana has been successful. While the court is sensitive to the controversy surrounding the medicinal use of marijuana, whether or not it should be prescribed for a patient in a state where it is legal to prescribe it is a medical decision that is within the boundaries and laws in the state.”
The attorney for Watson, Philip Faccenda, is pleased with the court’s decision. He commented that his client is unsure as to whether he will continue in the medical marijuana program, but at least he is being reimbursed for his medical marijuana purchases. There are no plans for an appeal to the judge’s ruling at this time.