June 20, 2018, Maine
It is often discussed how stringent federal cannabis provisions create problems for the residents of the legal states. In the latest such exhibition, Maine’s Supreme Court has given a ruling that expenses of medical marijuana treatments can’t be covered in statewide workers’ compensation programs.
The ruling originates from the case when an employee of a paper company incurred a back injury at work. During his treatment, he was recommended medical cannabis to alleviate the pain. Initially, the employer was ordered to compensate for the entire treatment including MMJ administration.
However, the employer took the issue to the state’s apex court. Eventually, the court has given the verdict in the favor of the company.
The Court Declares MMJ Compensation a Federal Crime
States and federation are in constant battle with each other when it comes to cannabis. For instance, at the beginning of the year, the US Attorney general rescinded Cole Memo, approved by the previous administration. The memo protected state cannabis operations from federal intrusions.
Following the annulment of Cole Memo, many states have pledged to fight back against unwanted federal involvement in legal cannabis affairs. Colorado held the nominations to the justice department from the state as a remonstration against inflexible federal provisions.
However, Maine hasn’t followed suit. The state’ Supreme Court clearly mentions that it has ruled MMJ compensations illegal in the light of Federal Controlled Substance Act, the notorious law that classifies cannabis as a Class 1 drug along with other deadly variants such as heroin and LSD.
The Conundrum of Federal and State Jurisdictions
The Supreme Court ruling clearly states that the paper company will commit a federal crime if it compensates for MMJ treatments. It is a fact that MMJ is still considered a Class 1 controlled substance in the federal law book.
However, it must also be taken into account what the state laws have to say about MMJ compensations. According to the Workers’ Compensation Board of the state, the employers are required to include MMJ treatment expenses in compensation plans, since the therapeutic use of cannabis is legal in the state.
It’s Impracticable to Comply With Both Laws
If we interpret the ruling of Maine’s Supreme Court, then it is quite evident that it is impossible to comply with both state and federal laws when it comes to marijuana. The court also acknowledges this paradox that involved parties have to face when it comes to state and federal cannabis laws.
Cannabis advocates in the state have heavily censured the decision. They think that the court hasn’t maintained nonpartisan attitude in dealing with the case. Instead of providing much-needed legitimacy to the state’s MMJ program that caters to more than 40000 residents, the court sided with the federation.
Workers’ Compensation is of no Use Anymore
The injured patient that has lost his case in the court has to get its MMJ medications from his own pocket. The overwriting of state cannabis laws by the federal provision is a problem that needs immediate attention from all the stakeholders.