Medical Marijuana

Paradigm − November 4, 2014 − filed under Medical Expertise

Long-held beliefs on the value of medical marijuana are shifting rapidly in the United States. Providers, politicians and the public at large are reevaluating, and in some cases rewriting, long-standing laws and treatment protocols. Where this evolving controversy leaves employees, employers and carriers is as much an unknown as the impact of any legalization. In a new video, Paradigm Outcomes presents some facts about this controversial treatment to help companies before they encounter it in a workers’ compensation claim.

People have been using the cannabis plant for over 10,000 years in a variety of forms, including rope, paper, and as treatment of ailments. Today, medical marijuana is being prescribed for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Appetite stimulation
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea
  • Neurological disorders
  • Pain relief
  • Mental disorders
  • Cancer remission
  • Other medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, hypertension, glaucoma, sickle cell anemia, psoriasis, insomnia, diabetes and anxiety

Medical marijuana has both positive and negative clinical effects that treating physicians and claim managers need to consider before use in any treatment plan. The American College of Physicians described marijuana as “neither devoid of potentially harmful effects nor universally effective.” The organization has also recommended “dispassionate scientific analysis” for understanding potential therapeutic benefits and assessing adverse risks.

It is important to remember that although some states permit medical use of marijuana, and still others like Washington and Colorado have legalized recreational use, the drug remains banned by the federal government. As the legal framework around medical marijuana continues to change, employers and insurers will benefit from becoming more familiar with the therapeutic uses before the drug is requested or prescribed.

Future implications for workers’ compensation claims and clinical management will be formed by evolving utilization review protocols, as well as state and federal law. For more information about how employers are handling drug testing in states where medical marijuana is legal, check out our blog, “Uncovering Legal Marijuana Use in a Drug Screen.” Learn more about other treatments for chronic pain by connecting with Paradigm on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

  • Sergio McGeez said,

    What if you could get all the health benefits of cannabis without the high? Thanks!

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