An all-star cast was in place to discuss the medical marijuana trend at the SAWCA 67th Annual Convention. Paul Tauriello, Colorado Director of Workers’ Compensation, opened the session with an overview of Colorado’s medical marijuana industry, which ended the 2014 year with sales of approximately $386 MM. He noted that getting qualified applicants for law enforcement and related positions has been tough due to drug testing requirements and that this could be a concern in the future.
Paul introduced Michael Newman, a 21-year old student who overcame cancer and used FDA-approved Marinol to control his nausea while fighting and overcoming the treatments for his cancer. The Marinol was very effective in helping in his treatment and recovery. Michael provided an upbeat and emotional testimonial on the positive uses of medical derivatives of marijuana.
Next, Kathryn Mueller, Colorado State Medical Director, provided an overview of various medical marijuana uses. She then discussed the difficultly related to obtaining additional approvals for use of certain marijuana-based drugs for treatment of neuropathic pain. Additionally, she outlined the ACOEM guidelines for organizations to consider as they set policies associated with use of medical marijuana.
Next, Robert Luskin, Attorney with Goodman McGuffey Lindsey & Johnson, discussed the application of employment procedures and if accommodations have to be made by employers for use of medical marijuana. They do not have to be made because marijuana is still federally illegal. However, he stressed that having a system in place sooner that protects and supports a safe workplace is key in setting good policy. It will also provide a good baseline for future workforce support and possible expanded accommodation rules.
Finally, Scott Curtis, State Assistant Attorney General of Maryland, outlined how his state will approach the legalization of medical marijuana. He brought up anecdotally the inability to include marijuana in an MSA as there is no code for this treatment.
Overall, most agreed this is a trend that will be a part of the workplace in the future in most, if not all, states.