Breaking News-Decision Issued Yesterday: NJ Superior Court Directs Workers' Compensation Carrier to Reimburse Injured Worker for Treatment with Medical Marijuana

November 30, 2023

Vincent Hager v. M & K Construction (Division of Workers' Compensation), DocketA-0102-18T3 (Superior Court of New Jersey, January 13, 2020).

Yesterday NJ Superior Court directed a workers' compensation carrier to reimburse an injured worker for treatment with medical marijuana. The court refused to conclude that the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) preempted New Jersey's Medical Marijuana and Workers' Compensation Statutes.

The Court reasoned that the carrier would never be asked to participate in an act prohibited by the CSA, "possession, manufacture, or distribution of medical marijuana. This was because reimbursement to Claimant would be none of those things, and further be an act permitted under New Jersey's Medical Marijuana law. Because it is not physically impossible to comply with the MM Statute and CSA, preemption does not apply.

Second, the court dismissed the argument that the carrier would be aiding and abetting a crime by Claimant, possession. It reasoned that Claimant would not be guilty of this crime per the MM Act, that one cannot aid or abet a crime after the fact, and that there would be no intent on the part of the carrier to aid and abet a crime.

Finally, the Court reasoned that the carrier faced no credible threat of Federal prosecution in light of the Rohrabacher Amendment which is attached to all Federal appropriations bills since 2014. It prohibits the use of Federal funds by the Attorney General to prosecute states with medical marijuana laws including New Jersey. This has been signed into law by our current president twice.

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