In the case of Greg Vialpando v. Ben’s Automotive Services and Redwood Fire and Casualty, the New Mexico Court of Appeals ordered Mr. Vialpando’s employer and insurer to reimburse him for medical cannabis recommended by his treating physician. Mr. Vialpando, an auto body repair man, suffers from severe chronic pain after numerous back surgeries failed to improve the pain he suffered from an on-the-job back injury in 2001. After receiving recommendations for enrollment in New Mexico’s medical cannabis program from two physicians, including a pain specialist, he was accepted into the program, which is run by the New Mexico Department of Health. After his worker’s compensation insurer refused to reimburse him for the medical cannabis, a workers’ compensation judge ordered the insurer to reimburse Mr. Vialpando and the New Mexico Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling. The case is believed to be the first in the nation in which an appellate court ordered an insurer to reimburse a worker for medical cannabis.
In the case of Victoria Eskelson v. Miners’ Colfax Medical Center and New Mexico Risk Management Division, the New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled that Ms. Eskelson, a non-participating victim of a horseplay incident was entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Ms. Eskelson was injured when a co-worker picked her up off the ground by her neck. The employer refused to pay for her surgery or time off work, stating that the claim was barred because the injuries resulted from horseplay.