Section 10 of the Workers’ Compensation law in New York State says, among other things, that there shall be no liability for compensation “when the injury has been solely occasioned by intoxication from alcohol or a controlled substance………”
It has long been the law that if someone gets injured on the job SOLELY because they are drunk or stoned, the employer is NOT responsible.
But what about the recent legislation regarding medical marijuana? Does this affect the Workers’ Comp system in New York?
In my opinion, New York State and Governor Cuomo’s recent passage of a limited medical marijuana bill should NOT affect Workers’ Comp. Why? Because the bill says:
To be prescribed medical marijuana, a patient must receive a certification from a licensed practitioner who must register with the Department of Health and be qualified to treat the serious condition for which the patient is seeking treatment. The serious conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed are cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication on intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, Huntington’s Disease, or as added by the commissioner by DOH.
Looking at this list, there are few if any such conditions that could possibly be work-related. The only ones that are possible are the nerve damage situations but those seem to cover only the most severe. So this law likely won’t affect Workers’ Comp.
But what about Social Security Disability and Medical Marijuana? I googled these together and found some interesting articles. Remember, marijuana is still illegal on the federal level and Social Security is a federal program. If someone is alleging a mental disability and is taking marijuana on a daily basis it might be hard for the Judge to decide their case. Anyone who is found to be disabled because of drug use can be denied benefits on that basis.
So the use of medical marijuana will make disability claims more complicated.
Bottom line—this is still new territory for the disability field, so stay tuned………