Judge Ingrid L. French, a state administrative law judge from New Jersey, handed down a rather thought-provoking decision to start the New Year. Judge French ruled that Andrew Watson’s insurance company is obligated to cover the costs of his voter-approved medical marijuana.
Theoretically establishing a sweet-smelling precedent for patients in The Garden State, Andrew Watson’s case sought financial reimbursement for the medicinal cannabis he purchased at a local N.J. collective, after enrolling in the state’s medicinal cannabis program in 2014.
Considering the request that future medical marijuana expenses be covered by the insurance company, Judge French ruled Mr. Watson’s medical condition were consistent with New Jersey’s list of qualifying conditions.
French listened intently to the testimony provided by the thirty-something Egg Harbor plaintiff and pondered the testimony of a local neurologist/psychiatrist. After much consideration, the judge agreed medical marijuana is indeed medicinal and should be covered by Watson’s insurance company, according to Philly.com:
“The evidence presented in these proceedings show that the petitioner’s ‘trial’ use of medicinal marijuana has been successful. While the court is sensitive to the controversy surrounding the medicinal use of marijuana, whether or not it should be prescribed for a patient in a state where it is legal to prescribe it is a medical decision that is within the boundaries of the laws in the state.”
Concluding Watson’s chosen holistic approach to pain management was preferable to medicating with opiates, Judge French found in her eight-page ruling the plaintiff’s decision was “cautious, mature, and … exceptionally conscientious.”
Potentially setting a future precedent for others to follow, John Gearney, a labor attorney/blogger explained the ramifications of this case.
“There are about 50 workers compensation judges in the state, and they will read it and see what the judge thought when a case like it comes before them.”
Watson’s attorney, Phillip Faccenda, hailed the judge’s ruling as a ”less expensive treatment modality” for patients seeking assistance from New Jersey’s Workers Compensation industry. No longer compelled by insurance companies to choose expensive and addictive opiates over medical marijuana for managing pain, this smells like a win-win for both insurance companies and patients alike in The Garden State.
Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.