Maine’s Supreme Court handed down a ruling today that the state’s workers’ compensation system does not cover the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The ruling is yet another instance where federal prohibition is creating problems for states with legal cannabis programs.
Tuesday’s ruling stems from a workers’ compensation case involving an employee with the Twin Rivers Paper Company, LLC. Gaetan H. Bourgoin suffered a back injury on the job with the company. Bourgoin then received a medical cannabis recommendation to treat the related back pain. An initial order required the company to pay for its employee’s medical marijuana. But the Supreme Court ultimately sided with the employer’s objections.
Maine Supreme Court Says Covering Medical Marijuana Forces Companies To Commit A Federal Crime
The conflict between federal and state drug laws has come to a head in Maine. And after a lengthy court battle, Maine’s Supreme Court ruled that companies are not required to reimburse employees for workers’ compensation claims involving medical marijuana.
Many state governments have pushed back against the looming threat of a federal crackdown on state-legal cannabis programs. But in Maine, the Supreme Court cited the federal Controlled Substances Act in its opinion on the case.
Essentially, The Maine Supreme Court ruled that federal law preempts state law. In this case, that means the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) preempts Maine’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act (MMUMA). In turn, requiring a company to pay for medical marijuana would be tantamount to requiring them to break federal law.
“Prosecuted or not, the fact remains that Twin Rivers would be forced to commit a federal crime if it complied with the directive of the Workers’ Compensation Board,” Main Supreme Court Associate Justice Jeffrey L. Hjelm wrote in the Court’s opinion.
In other words, if Twin Rivers had paid out the