White Paper

Marijuana and Cannabis: Questions we need to ask

Marijuana, it seems, is everywhere. Nearly a dozen states have approved cannabis for recreational use and more than two-thirds have signed off on medical marijuana. Marijuana’s active chemical components are becoming more widespread, too.

White Paper Summary

Cannabidiol (CBD), which is derived from cannabis, has popped up seemingly overnight in products from skin cream to candy to dog treats. Hemp, another marijuana analog, already appears in thousands of commercial products. The number is likely to increase thanks to a recent loosening of restrictions on hemp cultivation.2 With so much going on around marijuana, it makes sense to review what we know and what it might mean for workers’ compensation.

It’s no secret that the growing popularity of various forms of cannabis increases the likelihood that their use will become a bigger consideration within workers’ comp in the coming years, but before we dive into the implications, let’s define what we’re talking about. In workers’ comp, we often use the terms “marijuana” and “cannabis” interchangeably. That’s understandable given marijuana is perhaps the more commonly used term.

While marijuana is more of a slang term encompassing the plant and associated products, the term cannabis originates from the plant genus name and is what we most often find in scientific literature. Cannabis generally refers to a preparation of the cannabis plant. Cannabis is comprised of a variety of chemical components, including  cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the active chemical constituents. It’s this chemical profile — the percentage of cannabinoids in cannabis — that determines a product’s potency and effects. Therefore, the makeup of the cannabis is what matters more than the various strain names or plant species type.3



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Coventry offers workers' compensation, auto, and disability care and cost-management solutions for employers, insurance carriers, and third-party administrators. With roots in both clinical and network services, Coventry leverages over 35 years of industry experience, knowledge, and data analytics. As a part of the specialty division of Aetna our mission is returning people to work, to play, and to life. And our care management and cost-containment solutions do just that. Our networks, clinical solutions, specialty programs, and business tools will help you focus on total outcomes.

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