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Will Medical Marijuana Get Coverage in Employee Health Care Plans?

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 29 states, with more on the way. So you'd think that Americans would be more accepting of the drug. But currently, almost no insurance providers cover cannabis as part of employee health care plans. But could that be changing?

Many companies and HR departments are considering covering medical marijuana in employee health care plans. This is partly due to its increasing legality, as well as evidence that it could be used as a substitute for opioids. Employers would rather their workers use a less dangerous drug, like cannabis, rather than addictive painkillers. But insurance usually only covers the latter.

Of course, there are several barriers to covering marijuana. One is that it's still illegal at the federal level. Besides the obvious legal complications, it also means many insurance companies are unwilling to compensate medical marijuana costs. Therefore, only companies that self-insure their employees are the ones who can cover cannabis at the moment. But even if marijuana is covered, the complex laws governing the industry can make it difficult to reimburse cannabis costs.

That isn't to say that things couldn't change quickly. In fact, some large employers in Canada have announced that they will begin covering medical marijuana costs in their workers' health care plans. So perhaps it would take a couple progressive companies operating in legalized states in America to get the ball rolling. 

But there's definitely interest in making this happen, it's only a matter of how long it takes.

(h/t SHRM)


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