by | Feb 5, 2021

In recent years and months, Iowa has expanded the availability of medical marijuana and its derivative products within the State.  Iowa Code §124E.26. Marijuana is still illegal in Iowa and the State still has very strict rules regarding how the substance can be used for medical treatment. Regardless, the trend in the State has been to steadily expand access to medical marijuana as a recognized treatment option. A fair question from many employers and insurance carriers at this point is, does the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Act require them to pay for an employee’s use of medical marijuana?

The answer to this question was recently answered by the passage of, and currently enacted, provision of the Medical Marijuana Act called, “Regulation of marijuana use by government medical assistance programs, private health insurers, and other entities.” Iowa Code §124E.22.

The provision states in its entirety:

Nothing in this chapter shall require a government medical assistance program, private health insurer, workers’ compensation carrier, or self-insured employer providing workers’ compensation benefits to reimburse a person for costs associated with the medical use of marijuana.

Iowa Code §124E.22. In other words, employers and insurance carriers do not have to provide coverage under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Act for medical marijuana treatments within the State. Id. It’s unclear exactly how the IADWC will interpret this statute within the constraints of ICA 85.27 (employer-directed care).

Section 124E.22 went into effect on July 1, 2020, and has gone relatively unnoticed. Since its enactment, Iowa has taken further steps to expand access to medical marijuana as the situation is rapidly evolving.  For more information regarding the compensability of medical marijuana under the Iowa Workers Compensation Act, or information regarding compensation claims generally, please contact Micah C. Hawker-Boehnke or Paul Barta at 402-475-1075.