Workers' Compensation Law
In 2019 the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Review Board (CRB) in Caye v. Thyssenkrupp Elevator rejected the employer and its workers’ compensation insurer’s argument that the Workers’ Compensation Commission cannot compel them to reimburse the cost of medical cannabis because such an order would require them to engage in conduct that is criminalized under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CRB in Caye instead affirmed the trial commissioner’s order that the respondent must reimburse the claimant’s expenses in obtaining medical cannabis.
This Note argues that when the issue of workers’ compensation reimbursement for medical cannabis is inevitably reviewed by the Connecticut Appellate or Supreme Court, the reviewing court can and should compel employers and their insurance carriers to reimburse claimants for the cost of medical cannabis. Despite the legal haziness the CSA creates, employers and their insurers can avoid knowingly breaking federal law by reimbursing the cost of cannabis as an out-of-pocket expense.
In addition to the legal reasoning set forth in this Note, the CT Appellate or Supreme Court should rule on the side of workers as a matter of public interest. The opioid epidemic in the United States claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 people from 1999 to 2019. The opioid epidemic is far from over, and, as a result, hundreds of Connecticut residents’ lives continue to be cut short. Although increasing workers’ compensation coverage for medical cannabis is not a cure-all solution to the epidemic, increasing access to an effective, less deadly alternative is a step in the right direction.
Sousa, Sydnee, "Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Medical Cannabis in the Age of the Opioid Crisis" (2022). Connecticut Law Review. 543.