Pepsi Has To Pay For Worker’s Medical Pot

A Pepsi Bottling Group employee who hurt his back while on the job is entitled to reimbursement for his medical marijuana costs, a New Jersey state appeals court said recently.

An order from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s workers’ compensation office had previously called on Pepsi to reimburse Brian W. Calmon for the medical marijuana prescribed to treat his work-related back injury, according to court documents.  However, Pepsi tried to appeal that order — only to be shut down again in this appellate decision. 

The May 11 affirmation came just a day after the Garden State’s supreme court issued a decision in a completely different case called Vincent Hager v. M&K Construction.  

“In that opinion, the Court addressed the exact issues Pepsi raises here — that New Jersey’s Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act is preempted as applied to a workers’ compensation order directing reimbursement for medical marijuana by the federal Controlled Substances Act, or alternatively, that employers should be treated like private health insurers under the Compassionate Use Act, making them exempt from reimbursement under N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14,” the appellate pane’s ruling stated.

In the Hagar case, his former employer was also directed to pay for ongoing medical marijuana expenses related to a work-related injury.  

An appeal took Hagar’s case all the way to the state Supreme Court  The court opinion was issued on May 10 — a day before the appellate court was set to hear oral arguments from Pepsi to try to get out of paying the pot costs in the Calmon case.

“Having considered the record and the parties’ arguments, we affirm the December 2, 2019 order issued by Supervising Judge of Workers’ Compensation Eugene Mulvaney based on the Court’s controlling opinion in Hager,” the appellate opinion reads.

Court documents did not provide information exactly as to how Calmon was hurt while working at Pepsi. Nor did they indicate if he is still an employee.