The dawning of the new year saw a flurry of activity on medical and recreational marijuana laws. States continue to push the envelope on the conditions covered and more states are jumping on the medical marijuana bandwagon. All of this activity is being staged against the backdrop of the continued treatment of marijuana as a Schedule I drug under federal law and some signaling from Congress and the White House that they are considering changing the status of marijuana.
The current status of marijuana is somewhat inhibiting robust clinical studies that most providers and insurers need to feel comfortable about recommending or paying for the drug to treat an injured worker. However, that lack of clinical study has not slowed policy makers as they press forward on expanding the use of medical marijuana in their respective states. Some state legislators are also pushing to have insurers cover the cost of medical marijuana.
Other major topics for consideration this year are opioids, drug formularies, directed care, auto personal injury protection and workers’ compensation reform.
Though recreational use of marijuana may not have direct impact in workers’ compensation, we do believe the trend in legalizing recreational use is informative as it could impact drug-free workplace programs and may impact worker safety. It is interesting to see these laws sweeping across the country.
Without question, 2019 is shaping up to be a very interesting and active year on the legislative and regulatory fronts. Our government affairs team is actively engaged on critical issues around the country. As these legislative and regulatory initiatives advance, we will keep you posted on their progress and any pertinent changes as they occur.
If you have any questions or information about legislative and regulatory issues, please contact Brian Allen, Vice President of Government Affairs at Brian.Allen@mitchell.com or at 801-903-5754.