Medical marijuana has been all over the local news for the past 9 months. While the Colorado legislature contemplates regulating the use, the sale and the licensing of patients who wish to use medical marijuana, it appears as though the WC insurance industry is also contemplating what it should do when it comes to injured workers using medical marijuana to treat and relieve the symptoms of their work-related injury. The first indications given by the insurance industry is that they will not pay for marijuana; however, that position, which may or may not be supported by law, is one that is shortsighted. Unfortunately, due to narcotic prescriptions given to injured workers, they become dependent on the same and require a vast more amount of treatment than if they had not become dependent on the narcotics. This not only has a higher claim cost to the carriers and their insureds, but worse, it has a higher human cost. Carriers need to understand that the business decision of paying for medical marijuana versus narcotics can actually save money and prevent injured workers from having to deal with dependency and withdrawal problems. The “taboo” of actually authorizing and paying for medical marijuana appears to remain a huge obstacle to making good business decisions when it comes to helping injured workers live with the symptoms of their work-related injury.
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