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Florida First DCA rules that worker’s compensation recipient was not entitled to reimbursement for cost of evaluation for medical marijuana prescription

On June 30, 2021, in Jones v. Grace Healthcare, No. 1D19-1684, the Florida First DCA ruled that a worker’s compensation claimant was not entitled to reimbursement under Florida’s worker’s compensation laws for the cost of a medical evaluation certifying that a marijuana prescription is “medically necessary” within the meaning of Fla. Stat. § 440.13. The Judge of Compensation Claims had concluded that the prescription was medically necessary but that the evaluation was nevertheless not reimbursable because Fla. Stat. § 381.986(150(f) provides that marijuana is itself not reimbursable under Chapter 440. The First DCA affirmed the JCC order, but on slightly different, finding that the evaluation could not be medically necessary if the treatment objective of the evaluation – acquisition of marijuana – was not reimbursable under Fla. Stat. § 381.986(150(f). The First DCA additionally concluded that the same result is dictated by federal law, under which possession of marijuana remains illegal, leaving unstated the implication that even if the Florida Legislature were to amend §381.986(150(f) to allow for marijuana prescriptions to WC recipients, the First DCA would still consider any such change to be preempted by federal law.

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