Does workers’ comp have to pay for marijuana if I use it for pain treatment?

In Virginia, if your treating physician writes you a prescription for marijuana, it is possible that the workers’ comp insurance carrier could be forced to pay for the prescribed marijuana.  As of now, Virginia courts have not resolved this question.  However, in a pair of recent Pennsylvania cases, the appeals court decided that the insurance carrier could be ordered to reimburse an injured worker that paid for prescribed marijuana out-of-pocket. This case could be appealed to higher courts and could still be reversed.  The federal law still makes marijuana possession or use for recreational or medical purposes illegal.

Additionally, in Virginia, it does not appear that there are any legal outlets for purchasing marijuana so it is very unclear how the prescribed marijuana would be obtained.  Realistically, it is unlikely you will find a doctor in our area that will write a prescription for marijuana for pain treatment or any condition.  Even if you found a doctor to write a prescription for marijuana, the workers’ comp adjuster would likely get an “independent” doctor to say there are other more reliable methods of pain management and that you did not need the prescription for marijuana.  It is “highly” likely that the workers’ comp adjuster would fight against paying for marijuana.

However, if you wanted to press the issue, you could go to court to force the carrier to pay for marijuana.  This would likely be a long, drawn-out battle and probably not worth the trouble.  If you choose to inhale or ingest marijuana now that it is legal in the Commonwealth of Virginia to possess certain amounts, you will likely have to obtain it on your own via your own garden or some other legal means of obtaining it.  You might want to check with your treating physician to make sure it does not interfere with your medical treatment before doing so.

That’s all for now.


The statements contained herein are for general information purposes only and are not considered specific legal advice to your situation as Mr. Shoen would need to meet with you individually to ensure client confidentiality and would need additional information not provided in this article. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

To learn more about the Law Office of Darren Shoen, or to speak with a lawyer, visit their website at

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