By now, we’re all aware of the ever worsening opioid crisis in America, and the use of medical marijuana and CBD oil as an alternative treatment for pain. But, do you know how these alternative methods will affect your workers’ comp?  

The common choice for acute pain management may include opioids, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammatories that treat a variety of conditions from post-surgical or persistent pain to constipation or depression.  

Many of these medications don’t work well when taken together, and prolonged use can cause patients to develop a tolerance which reduces their overall effectiveness.  If you’re an injured worker, you need access to pain management alternatives that don’t involve the risk of long-term opioid use.

Both the legislature and the public at large are recognizing the need for alternative medicine, and not surprisingly, the most widely discussed option is cannabis.  Even Ohio now has medical marijuana programs.  The programs offer patients who qualify for medical care to purchase medical grade marijuana in a variety of forms.  

Cannabis therapy goes beyond the concept of smoking a “joint”.  

Medical marijuana utilized in a variety of edibles, vape oil, ointments, pill form, and in “CBD-only” form, which eliminates the substance THC thereby avoiding the common side effects associated with “getting high”.  

CBD oil is the preferred method of cannabis treatment for use in children and infants suffering from seizure disorders. In fact, in a recent study done by Dr. Orrin Devinsky for the New England Journal of Medicine shows that the use of CBD oil as a treatment for patients with severe seizure disorders had a 39% drop in the frequency of seizures.

Cannabis doesn’t just stop at treating seizures, but it’s also been effective at treating a range of problems from chronic pain to irritable bowel, anxiety and sleep deprivation.  Medical professionals are increasingly available in Columbus to help counsel injured workers on the appropriate use of cannabis as a valid, alternative treatment.

There could be legal complications.

First, many insurance companies won’t reimburse for the cost of the treatment.  This refusal could be based more on ethical or moral concerns than actual cost, since it would be hard to make the case that a naturally growing plant is more expensive than engineered synthetic pharmaceuticals.

Also, injured workers returning to employment while using cannabis may violate a company policy.  Therefore, it’s important before engaging in a treatment program to discuss with your counsel the potential legal ramifications of using a cannabis treatment.  

Whichever you decide is the right treatment for you, the prior stigma associated with cannabis use is rapidly changing.  If you’re currently undergoing pain management, don’t hesitate to consult your treating physician about your medical options, and be sure to discuss with a workers comp attorney about your legal options as well.

For more information, contact Thomas Marchese at 614-486-3249.