Currently, 38 states allow the use of medical marijuana while 21 have legalized recreational use.
Despite the growing acceptance at the state level, marijuana use and possession remains illegal under federal law, complicating how Social Security views cases involving cannabis use.
The official SSA stance on any form of substance abuse is whether it is “material” to the case, essentially requiring the agency to make a determination as to whether the disability continues during periods of sobriety.
In terms of how cannabis impacts a disability claim, the short answer is that it is rarely determinative in applications involving physical issues. It’s basically impossible to find any link to between cannabis use and a back condition, for example.
However, in cases that only involve mental health impairments such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD, it can be difficult to separate symptoms from cannabis use. While some claimants find cannabis helps with their mental health impairments, it is very important to get documentation from medical professionals stating this, or the use of marijuana by itself could result in an unfavorable decision.
And beyond that, if a case gets to a hearing level, some judges simply seem biased against any sort of cannabis use, despite what the regulations say.
So, while cannabis use by itself does not make a claimant ineligible for disability benefits, it can certainly create some wrinkles in a case where an experienced Social Security disability attorney can help you navigate what to expect.