One Call Examines Ongoing Controversy around the Use of Medical Marijuana in Workers’ Compensation

RIMS Session Outlines Latest Developments in Legalization, Clinical
Research and Potential Policy Changes Surrounding Medical Marijuana

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#RIMS2017–Small-scale clinical trials have shown promising results in medical
marijuana’s ability to treat chronic pain. However, marijuana remains
illegal at the federal level, preventing broad use of marijuana as an
alternative to addictive and dangerous painkillers. To outline these and
other complex issues surrounding the medical marijuana debate, Kevin
Glennon, RN, BSN, vice president of clinical programs at One Call Care
Management (“One Call”), was selected to deliver a featured presentation
at the annual Risk
Management Society (RIMS) Conference
.

In his session, “Controversy Continues: Medical Marijuana in Workers’
Compensation,” Glennon informed risk managers and workers’ compensation
professionals about the latest developments regarding legalization,
clinical studies and potential policy changes of medical marijuana under
the Trump administration.

“Today, controversy continues due to the discrepancy between state and
federal laws,” said Glennon. “At the federal level, marijuana is illegal
because it’s classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled
Substance Act (CSA). However, to date, 29 states and the District of
Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. In addition, 83 percent of
Americans now believe doctors should be able to recommend medical
marijuana to patients, according to a recent Yahoo/Marist poll.”

Last year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was asked to
reconsider its classification of marijuana, but it decided against
changing it and wanted stronger evidence of marijuana’s therapeutic
value. Toward this end, the DEA increased the number of entities
registered to grow and supply marijuana to researchers. This will
increase availability for clinical trials, but there are still
significant hoops to jump through to conduct marijuana research.

These obstacles come at a time when the industry needs alternative
treatments for pain, noted Glennon. Last year, Time magazine
reported that overdose deaths in the U.S. involving opioids
(prescription painkillers and heroin) quadrupled since 1999, and opioid
abuse was costing $72 billion in medical costs alone each year.

“Due to the types of accidents and injuries that occur in workers’
compensation, the industry experiences a high incidence of chronic pain
cases, which makes it vulnerable to opioid abuse,” added Glennon. “With
more states legalizing medical marijuana, however, we’re seeing reports
of patients actually turning down prescription painkillers like
Oxycodone in favor of medical marijuana.”

Studies have shown a correlation between states legalizing medical
marijuana and a subsequent decrease in painkiller prescriptions, opioid
use and deaths from opioid overdoses.

While President Trump is sympathetic toward patients using medical
marijuana for serious ailments, his administration may heighten
enforcement against recreational use. If a federal crackdown occurs,
even users of medical marijuana are technically in violation of federal
law. A user’s employment, access to government benefits and parental
rights could be in jeopardy if marijuana is detected in drug-screening
tests. As a result, the threat of increased enforcement may set back
legalization efforts in other states. And, several
marijuana-reclassification bills that have been proposed at the federal
level are now stalled.

“It’s a catch-22. Marijuana may be an effective alternative to opioids,
but researchers are significantly restricted in being able to prove this
theory, as long as marijuana is classified as a Substance 1 drug,” noted
Glennon. “The fastest road to reclassification may be through FDA
approval. If there is enough clinical evidence for the FDA to approve a
marijuana-based drug, the DEA would move to reclassify.”

In the meantime, the industry should continue to monitor legalization
efforts and new case law affecting our states, as well as follow best
practice guidelines established by organizations like the American
College for Occupational & Environmental Medicine
(ACOEM).

About One Call Care Management

One Call is the nation’s leading provider of specialized solutions to
the workers’ compensation industry. One Call has six locations across
the United States with its corporate headquarters located in
Jacksonville, Florida. One Call’s solutions enable faster, more
efficient and more cost-effective claims resolution with a focus on
injured workers’ needs across the continuum of care. One Call provides
reliable, consistent connections to care with expertise in high-end
diagnostics, physical therapy and transportation services,
post-discharge home care and durable medical equipment, dental and
doctor specialty services, complex care management, and the language
services required for today’s multicultural workforce. For more
information, visit www.onecallcm.com.
For regular updates, follow One Call on Twitter at @onecallcm.

Contacts

Scott Public Relations
Joy Scott, 818-610-0270
joy@scottpublicrelations.com