Legal Cannabis-User’s Widow Denied Workers’ Comp. Death Benefits

A deceased Colorado electrician’s family is being denied half their workers’ comp. death benefit because of THC found in the victim’s system, according to a The Denver Channel report. Electrician Adam Lee died while on the job at Loveland Ski Area. An autopsy revealed the presence of high levels of THC in his body but current tests cannot tell whether or not he was intoxicated at the time of his death.

Erika Lee, Adam Lee’s widow, has been struggling to make ends meet since the accident.

“I’m scared, and I have no idea how we are going to make it. We don’t know if we will get any money, so I’m just looking now at how to survive. I am frustrated with the system that is saying because he smoked a legal substance, we are going to take away your benefits from you and your kids.” — Erika Lee, in the report

If an injured or deceased person tests positive for cannabis or another controlled substance, Colorado state law allows workers’ comp. companies to cut benefits by 50 percent. However, tests will show cannabis in a person’s system for many days or even weeks, even if the person is not currently intoxicated.

Colorado Attorney Brian Vicente, who played a notable role in the campaign to legalize cannabis earlier this decade, said this is a message to Colorado cannabis consumers.

“We voters spoke loudly and said marijuana should not be illegal for adults. Yet we still have some parts of the Colorado revised statutes that appear to penalize people who are using this substance.” — Brian Vicente, via The Denver Channel

Administrative Law Judge John Sandberg, who holds a seat with Colorado’s Department of Labor, said this will need to be a problem solved by the Colorado legislature.

“As it stands now, with a positive test result, an employer has the right to reduce those benefits. The issue that you’re raising […] I think is a good social issue. It’s one that probably needs to be brought to the general assembly in terms of how this impacts workers.” — Judge John Sandberg, in an interview

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