Since 2013, it’s been legal for doctors in Illinois to prescribe “medical marijuana” to their patients. For whatever reason, it hasn’t been an issue that comes up a ton in workers’ compensation cases. The more common concern is having a case denied because you test positive for marijuana after an accident.

The reality though is that marijuana has many medicinal benefits including helping people who are coping with chronic pain, nerve damage, PTSD, and other health issues.  And while insurance companies may not like it, if your treating doctor prescribes it for you, they have to pay for it and can’t cut off your benefits for using it.

The biggest potential concern in these cases is that you will be impaired due to your marijuana usage and potentially injure someone else or yourself if you return to work or get behind the wheel of a car.  To me though, these worries are not legitimate as many of the over-the-counter medications can make users impaired and put themselves and others at risk potentially. Just because it’s marijuana which used to be illegal doesn’t make it any more dangerous. In reality, it’s probably less dangerous.

Part of the problem is that too many people have been conditioned to think of drugs that can be recreational as all bad.  Some certainly are and I wouldn’t anticipate medical cocaine or heroin any time soon. But marijuana has scientifically proven benefits that have helped millions of people.

The other issue is that some insurance adjusters in Illinois work comp cases like to think they are doctors. To some of them, there is no reason that you should get this benefit so they want to fight you on it without good cause. Never mind that marijuana is less addictive than opioids and often cheaper. In other words, it’s in their best interests for you to have access to medical marijuana.

This is just one of many atypical medical benefits that are available to workers under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Your doctor can prescribe many things if they think they will help you that some might find odd. This list includes gym memberships, therapeutic pillows, cars, house modifications, and many other things. If it’s reasonable and medically necessary then the insurance company should have to pay for it.

So if this is something that you think could benefit you, talk to your doctor about it. While most people could get recreational marijuana on their own, getting a prescription from your doctor will make it so you don’t have to pay for this medicine out of your pocket.  And as always, if you have questions or concerns, you can contact us to speak with a lawyer for free about it.