U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Medical Cannabis Workers’ Compensation Case

On Tuesday, June 21, 2022, the Supreme Court of the US denied two comparable petitions arising out of Minnesota circumstances by which injured staff sought reimbursement for medical marijuana to deal with their work-related accidents. The 2 petitioners sought assessment of a Minnesota Supreme Court resolution discovering that the Managed Substances Act (CSA) preempted Minnesota legislation, which resulted within the denial of protection for medical marijuana in reference to their staff’ compensation claims. 

Background

This difficulty has been addressed by many state courts over time, relationship again to 2014, when New Mexico’s Court of Appeals approved the reimbursement of medical marijuana in staff’ compensation claims in Vialpando v. Ben’s Automotive Companies, however up to now few years has been addressed by courts in Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and most just lately, Minnesota, with combined outcomes. Courts in Maine, Massachusetts and Minnesota have recognized a optimistic battle between state legislation and the CSA, whereas these in New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey discovered no battle and approved reimbursement. Due to the break up between the 2 units of states, the petitioners sought assessment from the Supreme Court. 

Earlier than denying the petitions, the Supreme Court invited the U.S. Division of Justice to weigh in. Though the DOJ’s transient took the place that the CSA does preempt state legislation, it additionally argued that the states didn’t meaningfully handle this difficulty, and urged the Supreme Court to keep out of this space of rising legislation. The Supreme Court did precisely that. 

The Supreme Court’s resolution will not be inconsistent with its earlier refusal to handle issues in regards to the Schedule I classification of marijuana below the CSA. Court watchers have been hopeful that this time could be totally different; nonetheless, due to the official break up between the circuit courts, and approaching the heels of robust language by Justice Clarence Thomas final yr that questioned whether or not the federal authorities’s persevering with prohibition on marijuana is critical or correct, the Court declined. 

Justice Thomas’s assertion was made accompanying the denial of a writ of certiorari within the matter of Standing Akimbo LLC v. United States, which requested the court docket to handle whether or not a medical marijuana dispensary may correctly deduct abnormal enterprise bills in violation of part 280E of the Inner Income Code. In his assertion, Justice Thomas bluntly acknowledged that the reasoning behind the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 resolution in Gonzales v. Raich (the final time the Supreme Court dominated on federal marijuana coverage), which held that the facility of Congress to regulate interstate commerce approved it to prohibit the native cultivation and use of marijuana, has been “greatly undermined” by federal insurance policies of the previous 17 years. He characterised the federal authorities’s present method as a contradictory and unstable “half-in, half-out regime” that “strains basic principles of federalism and conceals traps for the unwary.” 

Evaluation

This Supreme Court’s resolution to stay on the sidelines of the controversy over marijuana legalization is disappointing to many who have been hoping to see the excessive court docket assist to break the logjam in Congress. The choice additionally leaves in place the clear battle over staff’ compensation reimbursement of medical hashish in state court docket choices and facilitates the potential for additional battle as this difficulty continues to percolate all through the nation. As a result of every of the selections have relied on totally different justifications to both deny reimbursement as preempted by the CSA or authorize reimbursement, except a state has a transparent controlling legislation on the reimbursement of marijuana within the context of staff’ compensation, it could be troublesome for events and practitioners to predict how a state might handle this difficulty.

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