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Can medical marijuana impact your workers' compensation?

While you never want to end up out of work and dealing with chronic pain after a workplace injury, you have the protection of workers' compensation to ensure your recovery, chronic pain, or disability do not leave you destitute, while providing options to relieve your suffering. However, with New York's medical marijuana laws, you may find a doctor prescribing you medical-grade cannabis as a way to ease any ongoing pain. Yet with many employers taking a dim view of the increasing legalization of marijuana, will using your medical marijuana prescription give employers grounds for a case against continuing your workers' compensation payments?

Technically, no. An action by the New York State Assembly fully ratified possession, use, and distribution of medical marijuana as absolutely legal within the state. As long as you have a prescription from a qualified medical professional, no employer can consider your marijuana usage as grounds to make a counter-claim against your workers' compensation claim or otherwise stop your benefits for use of a prohibited narcotic substance.

The key here, however, is the term "medical" marijuana. What constitutes medical marijuana is determined by your general practitioner and authorized prescription provider. Use of recreational marijuana to self-medicate or for other purposes would not be protected as a therapeutic aid under New York law, and may open you to the scrutiny of employers, their insurance companies, and any judges involved in a workers' compensation claim.

This blog post is intended as an informational resource only, and should not be considered actionable legal advice.

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