As the Indiana General Assembly began this past January, a bill was in the works to legalize medical marijuana. The bill was sponsored by Republican Jim Lucas with intention to provide a working solution for the opioid crisis in Indiana. The bill was not passed, but there is a strong possibility of seeing a similar bill on the agenda again in future sessions.
The issue of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes has received backlash and little movement not just in Indiana, but in other states as well. There are only 29 states that do not criminalize citizens for purchasing or being prescribed marijuana for their medical conditions. From advocates’ and doctors’ perspectives, there seems to be more of a morality barrier than a scientific one. In their eyes, there is a great need for more objective research that can remove marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s listing of a Schedule I drugs. Advocates and doctors stand behind the desperate need to raise quality of life for patients with severe medical conditions; to them, it is a disservice and doing more harm to prescribe opioids and painkillers rather than cannabis used in the right way.
Complications in the Workplace
In the workplace, however, things get more complicated. If an employee who uses medical marijuana is injured on the job, should workers’ compensation cover the claim? Due to the early stages of research and developing policy, the answer depends on the case. There are some complications that make working while using prescribed marijuana in Indiana even more complex.
Indiana workplaces have to comply with the requirements of the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. This means that no illegal drugs can be present in the facility or used by employees. If medical marijuana is prescribed, one would think there would be an exception. However, the slow-moving pace of bureaucracy would disagree. Also, employers typically receive benefits or incentives for being a drug-free work zone.
Discretion of the Employer
Indiana gives great leeway to how an employer wants to run their business and the environment that employees are in. Indiana employers are not regulated in how often they administer drug testing. This can be problematic if an employee is using marijuana as prescribed but drug testing guidelines haven’t been updated.
Quality of Work
If medical marijuana is one day made legal in Indiana, there is a gray area that would need to be clarified if employers have the right to terminate an employee for prescribed marijuana use on ethical reasons or if this would fall under medical limitations. Predictably, there will be some level of concern from employers about the quality of work of employees if using marijuana while on the job. Is the employee’s reaction time slowed? What about their motor skills or thinking? Can employees who use marijuana make clear decisions? These are a few of the questions that might alarm employers and argue that a workers’ compensation claim should not be paid if such an employee is injured on the job.
In general, there are still a lot of unknowns regarding medical marijuana in Indiana. We may not be faced right now with these implications and scenarios, but we may one day in the future. When the time comes for marijuana to be legalized, there will be several changes to be made in the workplace that will further complicate the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Consult a Muncie Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Even now, it might be hard to recover the compensation you are entitled to from being injured on the job. Trusted Muncie workers’ compensation attorneys can help. Hensley Legal Group is available for a free consultation; call or contact us online today.