Daniel Bierbach v. Dilgger’s Polaris, et. al.

Daniel Bierbach v. Dilgger’s Polaris, et. al., A20-1525 (Minn. Supreme Court, October 13, 2021)

The employee suffered a work related ankle injury and was diagnosed with intractable pain. He enrolled in Minnesota’s medical cannabis research program. He subsequently filed a Claim petition seeking reimbursement from his former employer for the cost of medical cannabis. The employee’s doctor found he was a great candidate for medical cannabis to help with his intractable pain and wean off of narcotic pain medication. The employer and insurer obtained a report from Dr. Meyer who was of the opinion that medical cannabis was not to be used for chronic pain, and recommended the employee for a chronic pain program. At the hearing, the employee acknowledged having misused drugs and alcohol in the past and acknowledged recreational cannabis use, which his doctors were unaware of.

The compensation Judge found for the employee and determined the Workers’ Compensation Act required reimbursement for medical cannabis use, but determined he lacked jurisdiction to decide the questions involving the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The WCCA affirmed.

The Employer and Insurer appealed.

The Supreme Court held that they had addressed the same questions of jurisdiction and preemption in the companion case, Susan Musta v. Mendota Heights Dental center, et. al. A20-1551 (Minn. Oct. 13, 2021), and found that the WCCA lacks jurisdiction to decide whether federal law preempts Minnesota law, and that the CSA preempts the compensation court’s order mandating employers and insurers to pay for medical cannabis.