The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday denied petitions to hear two cases challenging Minnesota’s refusal to allow coverage for medical cannabis through the state’s workers’ compensation program. In both cases, workers sought a review of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision finding that the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) supersedes state law, resulting in a denial of coverage for medicinal cannabis for the employees’ work-related injuries.
The Supreme Court invited the U.S. Department of Justice to file a brief in the case before making a decision. In its response, the Justice Department agreed with the Minnesota court that the CSA does preempt state law. But attorneys with the Justice Department also argued that the states have not adequately addressed the issue of federal preeminence and urged the Supreme Court to reserve judgment on evolving law.
The case was not the first time a state court had ruled on workers’ compensation coverage for medical pot. In 2014, the New Mexico Court of Appeals approved the reimbursement of claims for medicinal cannabis for work-related injuries. But rulings on similar cases in Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Minnesota have not been consistent. Courts in New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey found that state law was not in conflict with the CSA and authorized workers’ compensation claims for medical cannabis. But in Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, judges have ruled that federal law takes precedence.
Is the SCOTUS Decision Bad News?
Attorney Anne Davis, the co-founder of Bennabis Health, a company specializing in affordable medical cannabis access for patients, says that the Supreme Court’s decision to decline to hear the cases is not necessarily a negative outcome for patients.
“While I would’ve loved a decision by the federal government