Illinois has passed a law legalizing medical marijuana.

The rulemaking process is under way and the initial marijuana dispensaries will be opening soon.

It will not be long until legal issues start popping up.

I can think of a couple ways the medical marijuana issue will present itself in the Workers’ Compensation arena.

An injured worker has a back injury and undergoes surgery. The pain lingers and a pain management doctor says that there is nothing else they can do for him other than pain medications. He then mentions he would prescribe marijuana for him if he wants to try it.

If the Work Comp insurance company agrees to pay for the medical marijuana, then there is no problem.

However, if the insurance company refuses to pay for it then you must go to a hearing and have an arbitrator rule on your request.

Politically speaking this will most likely be a hot issue.

The initial cases will probably go through the court system and all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

It appears that pursuant to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act medical treatment is authorized.

However, one part of the Medical marijuana Act expressly provides that nothing in law is to be construed to require a private health insurer to reimburse for the costs associated with medical marijuana.

The battle will whether this applies to Work Comp insurance companies.

The injured worker will argue the Illinois Legislature did not intend to prevent this type of treatment for a compensable claim.

The insurance company will argue that they are not required to pay for marijuana just like any other private health insurer.

Questions about your work injury? Feel free to contact Illinois Workers’ Compensation Attorney Dirk May at Williams and Swee at 309-827-4371.