Pot Using Employee Granted Workers’ Comp

April 28, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that a bear park employee’s marijuana use was not a contributing factor to him being injured on the job.

A workers’ compensation court ruled that Brock Hopkins was injured in the course and scope of his employment and that although the “use of marijuana to kick off a day of working around grizzly bears was ill-advised to say the least and mind-bogglingly stupid to say the most,” grizzlies are “equal opportunity maulers,” without regard to marijuana consumption, so marijuana was not the major contributing cause of Hopkins’ injuries, according to a report on the Society for Human Resource Management’s Web site.   

The high court explained that under Montana law, nonprescription drug consumption precludes “an injured employee’s benefits if consumption was the leading cause contributing to the result, when compared to all others.” The court found that there was no evidence regarding Hopkins’ level of impairment and that the workers’ compensation court’s decision was supported by substantial credible evidence and its conclusions of law were correct.   

The SRHM report said that on the day of the accident, Hopkins smoked marijuana on his way to work at the park. One of his tasks that day was to feed the bears.   

After entering the bears’ pen, the largest grizzly attacked Hopkins. He was seriously injured and was able to escape only because one of the other bears attacked the first one.   

The employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance, so Hopkins applied to the Uninsured Employers’ Fund.