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Can Doctors Use Medical Marijuana for Pain Management?4 minute read

Many states have legalized medical marijuana in recent years.  Procon.org reports that over half of U.S. states have legalized marijuana for medical use to some extent.

Georgia has not yet legalized marijuana for medical use.  However, Georgia passed a law in 2015 which allows the use of cannabis oil in certain situations.  Other states also have passed laws which allow for the use of cannabis oil for medical treatment.

As states increase the ability to use marijuana and its derivatives for medical treatment, many people have questions about how that affects workers’ compensation.  I will discuss below how some of these questions might be answered.

Will Georgia workers’ compensation cover medical marijuana treatment?Female doctor examines elderly patients neck with collar

Nothing in Georgia’s workers’ compensation law specifically bars legal marijuana treatment.  Currently, Georgia does not have a full fledged medical marijuana law.  Lets examine the requirements that must occur for the workers’ compensation insurance company to have to pay for any medical treatment.

An authorized physician must order the treatment

Workers compensation insurance companies only have to pay for medical treatment that authorized medical providers order.  Currently, a Georgia doctor cannot prescribe marijuana for medical purposes.  Because of that, workers compensation insurance companies will not currently end up paying for medical marijuana treatment ordered by a Georgia doctor at this time.

What if the injured worker lives and treats in a state where medical marijuana is legal?

Most of the people I represent live in Georgia.  However, a few of the people I represent live in other states but have a Georgia workers compensation claim.  Often, these people treat with doctors outside of Georgia for their work injuries.

I have never had a client prescribed medical marijuana for their work injury.  But, if a client was treating in a state where medical marijuana was legal, the workers compensation insurance company may have to pay for that prescription if it meets other requirements of Georgia’s workers compensation law.

The primary requirement the prescription would have to meet is reasonable and necessary treatment for the work injury.  Some states have determined that medical marijuana can be reasonable and necessary treatment for a work injury.  However, there are difficulties with making workers compensation insurance companies pay for this treatment.

Could I get treatment for my injury under Georgia’s current cannabis oil law?

As I mentioned earlier in this article, Georgia does have a law covering the medical use of cannabis oil.  While it may change in the future, that law only allows treatment for limited conditions like:

  • Cancer
  • ALS
  • Seizure disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Mitochondrial disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Sickle cell disease

Even with these diseases, the law may only allow the use of cannabis oil when the disease approaches end stage.

As this list makes clear, Georgia’s current cannabis oil law does not cover most work injuries.  While some of the conditions and diseases on the list could develop from a work injury or possibly as an occupational disease, most workers compensation claims involve orthopedic injuries.

Because of that, Georgia’s current law provides almost no benefit to injured workers.  This is the case even if a doctor thinks their work injury would benefit from treatment with cannabis oil.

Georgia state capitalWill the Georgia legislature expand coverage of medical marijuana in Georgia?

I don’t know.  In March 2017, a new cannabis oil bill passed the Georgia House.  It may become law.  It is certainly possible that Georgia may legalize the use of cannabis oil or even marijuana for more medical purposes in the future.

As I have written about in the past, the use of opioids to treat pain has become a big issue.  Some 2017 data indicates that medical marijuana could help with the “opioid crisis”.

In a study of 27 states, the 9 states which had legalized marijuana to some extent saw decreases in hospitalizations for opioid abuse, addiction, and overdoses.  This data certainly shows a potential for considering whether medical marijuana may provide a better treatment option for pain than opioids and other pain management options.  It might lead to more states legalizing marijuana for treatment of certain painful medical conditions.

What if I have other questions about workers compensation?

Georgia’s workers compensation system can be very confusing.  You have to worry about getting the treatment you need and paying your bills while also worrying about not missing any deadlines that could cause you to lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.

If you have questions, I would recommend that you try to get answers.  To find out more about how to schedule a time to talk to me about your workers compensation questions, just read this short article.

Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers.  He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.

To be notified of Jason’s new workers compensation videos, subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation Video Series channel on YouTube by clicking the subscribe button below.

Brittney-lee orourkeBrittney-lee orourke
05:23 18 Feb 22
Amazing! Jason and his team were very helpful and had the best communication by far. Walked me though every step with great detail and had answers for any question I had. They handled my case better then I could imagine, it was a weird case and they stayed on top of it and kept me updated every step of the way! Highly recommend this Team! Thanks so much to Jason and his Awesome team!-Brittney
China JonesChina Jones
18:58 08 Feb 22
I absolutely love this group of attorneys, when I was at my lowest they did everything they could to help me get justice for my injury. I believe if I were to have never picked my phone up and called the amazing group that helped me I definitely would not have received my idea of rights. If you have an issue and are just not sure please understand that they will help you, stay in contact, answer any question you have, and for sure get you the justice you deserve I thank them from the bottom of my heart and I will definitely refer them to anyone who has been hurt because they most definitely care about their work and clients.
Luv LocsLuv Locs
16:08 15 Jan 22
The entire law office was attentive and responsive to all of my concerns dealing with my workers compensation case.
moombimoombi
21:14 02 Jan 22
If you must get a lawyer involved, you’d do well to work with Jason Perkins and his team at Perkins Studdard Law.They were thorough in gathering information and in sharing all the steps in the workers comp process specific to my case. Jason and the team were responsive to my bevy of questions and concerns.I appreciated the informative videos and consultations provided by Jason over video meetings and multiple phone calls.I hope I’m never injured on the job again. However, if I am and if my employer responds as my previous employer did, I’ll contact Perkins Studdard Law immediately to handle the case.
Dana BessDana Bess
23:57 10 Dec 21
Everyone at Perkins Studdard was kind and professional. They were always extremely responsive and answered all questions that I had and followed up to make sure I had an understanding of what was going on along with emailing videos to explain every step of my case so I would know what to expect and be prepared. Jason is a very genuine person and I trusted him with my case. He answered so many questions for me even before I retained him as my WC lawyer. I highly recommend him and his associates at Perkins Studdard.
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