Worker’s comp insurance must cover medical marijuana in New Mexico


Toke of the Town.

A New Mexico state appeals court ruled this week that worker’s compensation insurance policies in the state must also cover medical marijuana in addition to any other treatments directly related to the injury.
The ruling stems from 55-year-old former mechanic Greg Vialpando, who uses medical marijuana to help alleviate the pain from a back injury in 2000. The man’s former employer, Ben’s Automotive in Santa Fe have fought the initial decision, arguing that they shouldn’t have to pay for something federally illegal.

According to the mechanic’s attorney, New Mexico is the only state that insurers have to cover medical marijuana. Neighboring Colorado has language in the state constitution absolving insurers from covering medical cannabis, for example.
“It’s an important decision for workers so seriously injured they would be bound to a lifetime of narcotic medications,” White said after the announcement.
Vialpando has not been able to work since his injury due to the severity and has a 99 percent permanent partial disability – basically, the guy can’t do anything related to being a mechanic whatsoever ever again. Last year Vialpando received medical cannabis recommendations from two physicians, one of which testified that Vialpando’s pain was among the most severe he has seen among the hundreds of medical marijuana patients he has encountered.
Judges in the case ruled that the insurance company failed to provide a specific federal or state law that made reimbursing patients for pot illegal.