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  • Oklahoma adds structure to medical marijuana law

    Mar 21, 2019

    Oklahoma has enacted a law that adds rules and provides structure for the medical marijuana initiative that voters approved in 2018.

    The new law, enacted through HB 2612, formally creates the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority within the state’s Department of Health and grants it certain powers and responsibilities. Medical marijuana patients and caregivers will be required to register and obtain a license after being recommended by a qualified physician (a licensed Oklahoma allopathic or osteopathic physician). Under the previously enacted voter initiative, there are no qualifying conditions for patients.  A medical marijuana license just needs to be recommended according to “the accepted standards a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending or approving any medication.” 

    Effect on Insurers and Employers
    Similar to medical marijuana laws in several other states, the law doesn’t require an employer, private health insurer, workers’ compensation carrier or self-insured employer providing workers’ comp benefits, to reimburse a person for costs associated with the use of medical marijuana. A government medical assistance program will also not be required to reimburse for medical marijuana unless federal law requires it.

    Employment and Employer protections
    The new law includes provisions to protect job applicants and employees who are medical marijuana licensees from certain adverse actions from employers. The law also protects employers by not requiring them to permit or accommodate the use of medical marijuana on the property or premises of any place of employment or during hours of employment.  And employers will also not be prevented from having written policies regarding drug testing and impairment.

    Impact on workers’ compensation
    The law should not directly impact medical treatment for workers’ compensation claims or automatically permit medical marijuana as a treatment for work comp claims. The Optum Workers’ Comp and Auto No-fault (OWCA) Government Affairs team will continue to track developments in Oklahoma and other states to provide relevant updates to our clients.

    For questions on this or other developing legislative or regulatory topics, please feel free to contact our Government Affairs team at  AskGovtAffairs@optum.com.



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