Can You Get Workers’ Comp If You Smoke Weed? Here’s What You Need to Know

Medical marijuana is legal in New Jersey, but that doesn’t mean your employer or their insurance company won’t use it against you if you’re hurt on the job. They may try to deny your claim or reduce your benefits by arguing that your injury was caused or worsened by marijuana use. Don’t let them get away with it.

Kaplan & Kaplan: Protecting Injured Workers, Regardless of Marijuana Use

Snapshot of cannabis, symbolizing the inquiry into workers' comp eligibility for marijuana users.

We believe that all injured workers deserve compensation, regardless of their lifestyle choices. Our experienced attorneys understand the complex interplay between New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws and medical marijuana usage.

Your Right to Medical Marijuana and Workers’ Comp

A landmark 2021 New Jersey Supreme Court case (Hager v. M&K Construction) established that employers can be required to reimburse injured workers for medical marijuana expenses, even if the injury happened while the employee was under the influence.

We Fight Back Against Unfair Denials

If your claim was denied because of your marijuana use, Kaplan & Kaplan will aggressively challenge that decision. We have the experience and legal knowledge to prove that:

  • Your injury was caused by a workplace accident, not marijuana use.
  • Your medical marijuana use is legitimate and medically necessary.
  • You are entitled to full compensation, including reimbursement for medical marijuana expenses.

Don’t Let Your Employer Punish You for Legal Medical Treatment

Schedule a free consultation with Kaplan & Kaplan today. We’ll review your case, protect your rights, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Key Takeaways

  • Marijuana use can affect your eligibility for workers’ compensation in New Jersey, particularly if intoxication is proven to be the cause of the workplace injury.
  • Testing positive for marijuana does not automatically disqualify you from receiving workers’ compensation; you may still qualify if you can demonstrate that the intoxication did not cause the injury.
  • Medical marijuana users can face challenges in workers’ compensation claims but may be able to prove the medical necessity of their use, and recent court rulings in New Jersey support reimbursement for prescribed medical marijuana.

Can You Get Workers’ Comp If You Smoke Weed? Here’s What You Need to Know

In the Garden State, the scent of change has been in the air following the legalization of marijuana, but does this extend to receiving workers’ compensation benefits for those who partake? The short answer is that marijuana use can indeed affect your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. However, it’s not a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

If you’re injured on the job, the central question becomes whether your intoxication was the catalyst for the accident. Employers in New Jersey may wield the intoxication defense to challenge your workers’ compensation claim, but it’s not a closed door. A positive marijuana test following a workplace injury doesn’t automatically halt your claim, and if you can demonstrate that your intoxication didn’t cause your injury, you might still find relief under the workers’ compensation system.

Yet, a failed drug test isn’t the end of the road, and a claim denial based on such a test isn’t set in stone. Should you find yourself in murky waters, consulting with an attorney becomes crucial, particularly if you suspect your employer is using your positive drug test to negate your workers’ comp benefits. This is where firms like Kaplan & Kaplan step in, defending the rights of employees who face adverse employment actions due to marijuana use, despite its legalization in the state.


You’ve likely pondered the ramifications of a failed drug test on your workers’ compensation claim. As marijuana strides into the legal realm, uncertainty shadows the workforce in New Jersey. This blog post is your guiding light, aiming to unravel the intricacies of marijuana use within the workers’ compensation context. Focusing squarely on the Garden State’s legal landscape, we will dissect the pressing questions you, as workers, employers, or simply curious minds, might have about the influence of drug use on employment and benefits. Moreover, we’ll explore whether an employee’s claim can withstand the storm of failing a drug test and what it takes to prove that an unfortunate workplace accident was not a result of being under the influence.

In the ensuing sections, expect a deep dive into the legal implications of marijuana use on workers’ compensation eligibility in New Jersey. We aim to provide a comprehensive overview that clears the haze, equipping you with the knowledge to navigate these situations with confidence.

Marijuana Use and Workers’ Compensation in New Jersey

Illustration of a person with a workplace injury filing a workers' compensation claim

The relationship between marijuana use and workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey is as complex as the strains of the plant itself. While the state’s laws don’t turn a blind eye to the realities of marijuana use, they do set clear guidelines for when workers’ comp benefits may be compromised. For instance, if your workplace injury is a result of your own intoxication, you might find yourself ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This is because, under New Jersey law, intoxication at the time of the workplace accident is a significant factor that may lead to the denial of benefits.

However, it’s essential to understand that testing positive for marijuana doesn’t elicit an automatic disqualification from the workers’ compensation system. It’s the Intoxication Defense that employers might use to counter a workers’ compensation claim, predicated on proving that the intoxication caused the injury. Therefore, while marijuana use can indeed affect your workers’ compensation benefits, a failed drug test alone doesn’t necessarily seal your fate. The law acknowledges that marijuana shouldn’t automatically disqualify an individual from receiving workers’ compensation benefits, as long as they can counter the intoxication defense effectively.

Medical Marijuana and Workers’ Compensation Claims

The use of medical marijuana introduces another layer to the already intricate tapestry of workers’ compensation claims. While recreational use walks a fine line in the workers’ compensation realm, medical marijuana is treated with a different set of lenses. As a legal user of medical marijuana in New Jersey, you might face the challenge of proving that your use did not contribute to the workplace injury.

It’s a delicate balance between demonstrating the legal use and medical necessity of marijuana in the face of a workers’ compensation claim.

Legal Use of Medical Marijuana in New Jersey

In New Jersey, medical marijuana has gained recognition as a legitimate treatment option for a variety of conditions, which is a significant stride for employees seeking to integrate this form of medical treatment into their lives. Certified physicians in the state are authorized to prescribe marijuana for conditions that range from:

  • chronic pain
  • cancer
  • epilepsy
  • PTSD

This legal framework, influenced by federal law, is bolstered by key legal decisions, such as the Jake Honig Act and the 2020 New Jersey Supreme Court case, Wild v Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc., that have shaped the landscape for medical cannabis and employment.

In a groundbreaking ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court mandated employers to reimburse employees for the cost of medical marijuana if it’s prescribed by a physician, further solidifying the status of medical marijuana in workers’ compensation cases. Additionally, the 2021 New Jersey Supreme Court Case, Hager v. M & K Construction, provides further reference points for those seeking to understand the intersection of workers’ compensation and medical cannabis.

Proving Medical Necessity

Proving the medical necessity of marijuana use is a pivotal component in the context of workers’ compensation claims. In New Jersey, this involves establishing that medical marijuana is a reasonable and necessary treatment for the condition at hand. Patients may be required to produce documentation from their certified physician that details the qualifying condition and the prescribed dosage, thereby substantiating the medical necessity for their marijuana use. Moreover, they must demonstrate that their drug use does not interfere with their daily activities or compromise their ability to receive future medical treatment.

While gathering this evidence might seem daunting, professional legal help can streamline the process. An experienced attorney can guide injured workers through the necessary steps to prove that their use of medical marijuana is vital for their well-being, particularly if they test positive during a drug test. This legal support is critical in ensuring that injured workers can maintain their access to necessary medical treatment while navigating the workers’ compensation system.

The Rebuttable Presumption System in New Jersey

New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system operates under a no-fault system, but the state’s rebuttable presumption system adds a layer of complexity when intoxication is in question. When an employee fails a drug test after a workplace injury, a statutory presumption arises, suggesting that the injury was not work-related. Under this system, evidence of significant drug or alcohol levels in an employee’s system at the time of an accident shifts the burden of proof onto the employee, requiring them to show that their intoxication did not cause the accident. This is a deviation from the norm in other states, where the employer or insurance company typically bears the burden of proving that the drugs or alcohol actually caused the incident.

In New Jersey, employers must meet a stringent requirement to successfully invoke the Intoxication Defense; they must demonstrate that intoxication was the sole cause of the accident. This means that even minor evidence of another cause can defeat the defense, placing the employee in a position where they must prove that another factor caused the accident to rebut the presumption. If the employee fails to do so, the employer’s intoxication defense prevails under New Jersey’s rebuttable presumption system.

Drug Testing After a Workplace Injury

Following a workplace injury, drug testing becomes a critical focal point in the process of determining workers’ compensation benefits. In scenarios where there’s impairment on the job or an accident has occurred, drug testing often comes into play to discern whether drugs were a contributing factor. In New Jersey, while there are no explicit laws that mandate or prohibit post-injury drug testing, employers may still require it, and they look to state laws for guidance on the types of tests and timing to ensure their actions are legally sound.

Drug testing after a workplace injury is typically routine and is used as a tool by employers and workers’ compensation insurers to gauge the extent of drug use at the time the accident happened. However, the mere presence of a positive drug test does not automatically impact an employee’s ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits. It’s essential for employers to have objective evidence of impairment if they’re considering job action based on drug test results. Conversely, employees who refuse to submit to drug testing post-injury could face disciplinary action or even termination, as seen in states like Pennsylvania.

Impact of a Positive Drug Test on Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

A positive drug test can be a significant hurdle in a workers’ compensation claim, but it does not necessarily spell the end of the road for your benefits. Various factors come into play when assessing the impact of a positive drug test on your workers’ compensation benefits. While employers and insurance companies might attempt to use the results as a basis to deny benefits, the presence of marijuana in a test, by itself, is not conclusive evidence of intoxication.

Additionally, even if intoxication at the time of injury is established, employers have the burden of proving that it was the proximate cause of the injury to affect workers’ compensation benefits.

Does a Positive Drug Test Automatically Disqualify You?

The knee-jerk reaction to a positive drug test might be to assume it’s an automatic barrier to workers’ compensation benefits, but this isn’t the case. While a failed drug test can indeed influence eligibility, it does not singlehandedly determine the outcome of a workers’ compensation claim.

The presence of marijuana detected through drug tests is not sufficient to establish intoxication, and there are avenues available for employees to appeal and challenge the initial presumption that may arise from a positive result.

Exceptions and Special Circumstances

Even within the strict confines of workers’ compensation law, there are a few exceptions and special circumstances that can sway the outcome of a claim after a positive drug test. Workers may have defenses available to them, such as taking prescribed medication, which could exempt them from the negative consequences typically associated with failing a drug test. Moreover, claims may be upheld if there’s evidence that an employee was unfairly singled out for testing or if the testing methods were inappropriate.

Key exceptions that generally affect the ability to lose workers compensation benefits include injuries resulting from fights or violations of company policy, with drug use being a potential contributing factor. In such cases, pursuing a workers comp claim might be challenging.

Legal Options if Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Denied

When a workers’ compensation claim is denied, it’s not the end of the line. There are legal avenues to explore, especially if you believe your positive drug test is being used unfairly to deny your workers’ comp benefits. Paterson Workers Compensation Attorneys like those at Kaplan & Kaplan play a pivotal role in these scenarios, helping injured workers understand their rights and navigate the complex process to recover all available benefits.

During a free consultation with an attorney, it’s important to ask informed questions to ensure that the firm aligns with your needs and can effectively advocate on your behalf.

Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • How much experience does the attorney have in handling workers’ compensation cases?
  • What is the attorney’s success rate in obtaining benefits for clients?
  • How will the attorney communicate with you throughout the process?
  • What fees will you be responsible for, and how are they calculated?
  • Can the attorney provide references from past clients?

By asking these questions, you can make an informed decision about which attorney is best suited to handle your workers’ compensation claim.

If there’s suspicion about the accuracy or fairness of the drug test results, it’s vital to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can challenge the results and build a robust defense. Such legal representation can be instrumental in disputing company claims that an accident was caused by drug or alcohol use, potentially reversing the denial of benefits.

How Kaplan & Kaplan Can Help

Kaplan & Kaplan stands as a beacon for injured workers who find themselves navigating the treacherous waters of workers’ compensation claims, particularly when a positive marijuana test complicates matters. The firm’s seasoned attorneys offer a lifeline by providing experienced legal consultation to ensure that workers fully understand their rights and the repercussions of marijuana use on their compensation claims. Kaplan & Kaplan’s legal representation is tailored to protect the interests of workers who have tested positive for marijuana, safeguarding their right to fair treatment in the workers’ compensation process.

The firm’s extensive experience with workers’ compensation cases equips them with the strategic legal guidance necessary to defend against reduced wage benefits that may result from positive marijuana tests. Moreover, Kaplan & Kaplan is adept at arguing for the necessity of medical benefits, regardless of any reduction in monetary compensation due to a positive marijuana test. Their efforts can significantly reduce the potential reduction of benefits due to marijuana use at the time of injury, offering peace of mind and support to those in need.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a positive drug test for marijuana lead to automatic denial of workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey?

No, a positive drug test for marijuana does not automatically lead to denial of workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey. The employer has the burden of proof to show that intoxication was the cause of the injury.

Is medical marijuana use protected under New Jersey workers’ compensation laws?

Yes, in New Jersey, medical marijuana use is protected under workers’ compensation laws, and employers must reimburse employees for the cost if prescribed by a physician.

What is the rebuttable presumption system in New Jersey, and how does it affect workers’ compensation claims?

In New Jersey, the rebuttable presumption system means that if a worker fails a drug test after an injury, there is a presumption that the injury was not work-related, but the employee can contest this by proving that intoxication was not the sole cause of the accident.

What should I do if my workers’ compensation claim is denied due to a positive drug test?

You should consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to challenge the decision and potentially reverse the denial of benefits. It’s important to seek legal advice in this situation.

How can Kaplan & Kaplan assist me if I have tested positive for marijuana and my workers’ compensation claim is at risk?

Kaplan & Kaplan can offer expert legal guidance and representation to help safeguard your workers’ compensation claim and advocate for your medical benefits, despite a positive marijuana test.

N. Haledon Office

810 Belmont Avenue Suite 201 North Haledon, NJ 07508
No Recovery, No Fee. Free Consultations. 973-694-8100
Call Us
Text Us

Contact Us

Call 973-694-8100 or fill out the form below to get in touch with one of our attorneys.

100% Secure & Confidential