September 21, 2018
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Maine employers don’t have to pay for medical marijuana, top court rules

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm.
The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine supreme court says employers don’t have to pay for medical marijuana under the state workers’ compensation system.

In a 5-2 decision, the court ruled Thursday that federal law takes precedence in a conflict between the federal Controlled Substances Act and the state medical marijuana law. Writing for the majority was Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm.

The case focused on whether a paper mill must pay for medical marijuana for a worker who was hurt on the job.

[High court considers whether workers’ comp should cover former millworker’s medical pot]

Gaetan Bourgoin, of Madawaska, won a ruling from the Workers’ Compensation Board, and contends marijuana is cheaper and safer than narcotics. His case dates to 1989, when he hurt his back.

But Twin Rivers argued that a “private health insurer” shouldn’t be required to cover the cost of medical marijuana and that doing so put it in violation of federal law.

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