Workers’ Compensation, Opioids, and Medical Marijuana in SC
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the opioid crisis.
Millions of Americans have been prescribed pain medications – often long-term – despite a lack of evidence that they are an effective treatment for chronic pain. As a consequence, thousands of these patients have become addicted and many have died of overdoses.
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen has suggested that opioid addiction may be partly to blame for an increase in the number of working-age men who don’t work.
With more and more states legalizing medical marijuana, an obvious question is whether marijuana can be an effective substitute for opioid prescriptions.
Can medical marijuana in SC be incorporated into the workers’ compensation system? Or, will use of marijuana to manage chronic pain result in denial of workers’ comp benefits in SC?
Is Marijuana a Better Pain Medication?
One possible solution: Medical marijuana.
In states where medical marijuana has been legalized, some pain patients have actually turned down opioids, opting instead for a cannabis prescription. Others have used marijuana to drastically decrease their use of opioids.
Some medical professionals now wonder if turning to marijuana instead of opioids might be the answer to effectively manage pain while avoiding addiction. This could help alleviate the workforce problems caused by opioids. For example, people who are injured on the job may be able to return to work more quickly if they treat their pain with marijuana rather than opioids.
But there is just one problem – marijuana is illegal under federal law. And, while 28 states have legalized medical marijuana, many states – including South Carolina – still arrest and jail people who possess it.
Marijuana and Workers’ Compensation Claims in SC
What if you are using marijuana – illegally – to treat pain, and you get hurt on the job?
Can you still file a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina? You can, and you may get benefits, but you have still opened yourself up to the possibility of a denial.
South Carolina uses a no-fault workers’ compensation system. Unlike car insurance companies, who spend a lot of time and effort determining who is at fault before making a payout, the state doesn’t care who is to blame for a workplace injury. If you are injured at work and your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you can collect even if your injury is the result of your own negligence.
However, if you are impaired by alcohol or other drugs at the time of your injury, your benefits may be denied.
Can Marijuana Use Result in Denial of Workers’ Comp Benefits in SC?
What does this mean if you are illegally using marijuana for medical purposes and you file a workers’ compensation claim?
Your employer could require you to take a drug test. Your employer could then try to deny the claim based on a positive test result.
But, a positive drug test alone cannot prevent you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits, unless your employer can prove that you were intoxicated at the time of your injury and your intoxication led to your injury.
SC Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Myrtle Beach Can Help
Your Myrtle Beach workers’ comp lawyer can help you to file your claim, gather the evidence you will need to prove your claim, and challenge any denial of coverage by your employer or the insurance company.
If you have been injured on the job in SC, call the Lovely Law Firm at (843) 839-4111 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case evaluation.