Monday, July 27, 2015

Fear Not, Be Smart: How to Deal with Medical Marijuana

The headline from workcompcentral today is Comp Industry Urged to Prepare for Medical Marijuana.  As usual, it's a solid and informative article from a great source (and I'm not just saying that because PRIUM's own Mark Pew is quoted throughout).  Nonetheless, I'm always concerned when I hear talk of medical marijuana that takes on a foreboding and troubling tone.  I'm sure Sedgwick's Mr. Canavan meant no harm.  And I have to admit that I wasn't present.  But comments like, "You can blame New Mexico the next time you pay for medical marijuana" strike me as fodder for filling hotel ballrooms at conferences and not reflective of the actual medical and legal realities with which we're dealing.

Back in April, I wrote the following:

"Did you know that of the 24 states with medical marijuana laws, most have either explicit or implicit provisions allowing for commercial payers to avoid reimbursement for medical marijuana?

Did you know that most of these states have a list of allowable conditions that provide a second layer of potential protection for commercial payers? 

Did you know that most of these states have medical treatment guidelines that address the use of medical marijuana?

Did you know that the New Mexico cases that have most of our industry concerned about this issue exhibit systemic failure on the part of the payers in those cases to take advantage of these various provisions and protections?" 

So let's all take a deep, cleansing breath.  If we're smart about this - if states are thinking about evidence based guidelines and payer carve outs, if payers are thinking about UR and peer review, if doctors are thinking about what's best for patients - we can keep medical marijuana in the box in which it belongs.  Mark Pew is right that the legalization of medical marijuana is inevitable and the advent of recreational marijuana is upon us.  But the risk management issue should be in the areas of drug-free work place issues and on-the-job safety.  

When it comes to injured worker treatment, we're not suggesting that medical marijuana is a non-event that deserves no attention.  We're suggesting that smart payers with smart medical management strategies need not fear being overwhelmed with medical marijuana spend.  

On Twitter @PRIUM1


  1. Post-traumatic stress disorder was also included in the review, as it is the sole psychological disorder for which medical marijuana has been allowed. Florida medical marijuana attorneys

  2. Nicole.lascurain@healthline.comSeptember 26, 2015 at 2:35 PM


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    Nicole Lascurain • Assistant Marketing Manager
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    Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
    660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp is a trusted health information resource for over 30 million people. All content undergoes a rigorous editorial process. Learn more about Healthline at: