Legislation requiring the employer, workers’ compensation and PIP insurers to cover the costs of medical marijuana was passed by the NJ Assembly Appropriations Committee on October 26, 2020 and will be considered by the entire Assembly. Assembly Bill No. 1708, sponsored by Assemblyman John Burzichelli, Assemblyman Herb Conaway and Assemblywoman Joann Downey, requires that “an employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier or private passenger automobile insurance carrier shall provide coverage for costs associated with the medical use of marijuana.” If enacted, this legislation will not require that private insurers or governmental health programs like Medicare or Medicaid cover the costs of medical marijuana.
A first step in requiring workers’ comp coverage of the costs of medical marijuana came on January 13, 2020 when the Appellate Division decided the case of Hager v. M&K Construction, 462 N.J. Super. 146 (App. Div.), certif. granted, 241 N.J. 484 (2020). This case required reimbursement of the costs rather than coverage of the costs as set forth in the legislation. The Hager case is currently on appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear the case.