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Maine Employer Doesn’t Have To Pay For Medical Marijuana For Former Employee, Court Rules

Twin Rivers Paper Company doesn’t have to pay for medical marijuana for a former employee who was injured on the job because the federal Controlled Substances Act trumps the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled.

Gaetan H. Bourgeon sustained a back injury in 1989 while working for Fraser Papers in Madawaska, Maine that resulted in a finding of total disability. Opioid painkillers caused bad side effects, so in January 2012 he obtained certification from the state to use marijuana to deal with his chronic pain.

He asked Twin Rivers, the company that acquired the former Fraser Papers, to pay for his medical marijuana, and the state’s Workers Compensation Board awarded him the payments and a state appeals court subsequently affirmed that decision.

But the highest state court in Maine opted on Friday to overturn the appeals court decision, 5-2.

The opinion acknowledges that the state legislature has legalized medical marijuana. “The Legislature, however, does not have the power to change or restrict the application of federal law that positively conflicts with state law,” the court ruled.

And since the appeals court ruling would require the employer to violate the federal drug law, the company can’t be forced to pay for the former employee’s medical marijuana, the court ruled.

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