The New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled that medical marijuana should be classified as “reasonable and necessary medical care”, and therefore must be paid for under New Mexico workers' compensation laws. And as crazy as that sounds to someone like me, the reason the injured worker was on medical marijuana in the first place is even more astounding.

New Mexico has allowed medical marijuana since 2007, and patients must be licensed to use it. In a deposition for the workers' case, the treating physician testified he approved the marijuana license because the worker “had ‘already tested positive for marijuana use' prior to receiving authorization”. The doctor also stated he provided authorization to the worker as well as other patients because they “are going to use the cannabis either one way or the other.”

Now that is one bold pain management strategy. I wonder what year in medical school they cover “Total Capitulation” for med students? Glue sniffers and crack addicts must be very excited about this new medical approach.

Court records indicate that the patient was authorized to use medical marijuana after “traditional medical therapies — including spinal anti-inflammatory injections and opioids such as Percocet, oxycodone and hydrocodone — failed to treat his chronic back pain and herniated disk”. The injuries he sustained were the result of two accidents, in February and March of 2011.

A workers' comp judge in the state initially ruled that medical marijuana “did not constitute reasonable and necessary medical care” because the good doctor did not prescribe it for pain, rather because the patient was going to use it anyway. The New Mexico Court of Appeals unanimously reversed that decision last week, citing New Mexico’s “compassionate use” law. The court found that the doctor's authorization of medical marijuana should be treated as a prescription for workers comp.

Dude, how wasted is that?

So, to recap to this point, the doctor authorized use of medical marijuana simply because the guy was already using marijuana. The court then took that authorization as a justification for extending its use under workers' compensation benefits. And here is a stupid question: Was he smoking marijuana while undergoing traditional pain treatment, including spinal anti-inflammatory injections and opioids such as Percocet, oxycodone and hydrocodone? And if he was smoking pot while undergoing those other therapies, and it wasn't working then, why will it work now?

To add to this confusion, we have a statement made by the same doctor during his testimony, where he appears to disavow the use of medical marijuana in the first place. He said if “patients request that I sign (authorization for medical marijuana), I will sign for them, but I’m not recommending or distributing or in any way advocating for the use of medical cannabis.” Perhaps I should be stoned in order to understand this whole thing. If you don't advocate the use of medical marijuana, why do you authorize its use for medical purposes? Am I also hearing that he will authorize simply if someone asks?

I am such a dumbass. I thought there was actually supposed to be a medical reason for medical marijuana. At least fake your glaucoma, for Christ's sake.  Now employers in New Mexico will have to pay for it; all one needs do is ask the right physician.

When it comes to medical marijuana and workers' comp, this is not New Mexico's first rodeo. In May of last year a decision found that medical marijuana authorization under New Mexico law qualifies as a “functional equivalent of a prescription”. They made this determination because medical marijuana isn’t a prescription drug there.

In this situation, however, while the court cited that previous case, they seem to be relying most heavily on the “not recommending or distributing or in any way advocating for the use of medical cannabis” Doctor who will apparently authorize anyone who asks. Specifically, the court said, “Regardless of whether [plaintiff] requested treatment with medical marijuana, [the physician] had treated [plaintiff] with traditional pain management that had failed. He adopted a treatment plan based on medical marijuana. He would not have done so if it were an unreasonable medical treatment.”

I realize I am not high, but I do not think that appears to be the case at all. New Mexico employers, it looks as if, for the future, the next bud's on you.


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