Appeal of Panaggio
Appeal of Panaggio (New Hampshire Supreme Court, March 2, 2021): The New Hampshire Supreme Court held that federal law did not preempt an order of the state’s compensation appeals board requiring reimbursement for medical cannabis. The petitioner suffered a work-related injury which he treated through the state’s medical cannabis program. His insurer refused reimbursement, claiming medical cannabis was not reasonable or medically necessary. He appealed to the New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Board, which found the treatment reasonable and medically necessary. However, it held that the insurer was federally preempted from reimbursing the treatment since marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The insurer would commit a federal crime, reasoned the court, by aiding and abetting its purchase. The New Hampshire Supreme court disagreed and held that federal preemption did not exist for several reasons: (1) the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) does not directly prohibit reimbursement for medical marijuana; (2) reimbursement does not rise to the level of aiding and abetting because the insurer lacked the requisite intent; and (3) the tension between state and federal policy in this area does not present an obstacle to federal CSA enforcement. Read the decision here.