Brock Hopkins, Pot-Smoking Bear Handler, Awarded Workers' Compensation in Montana Supreme Court Case

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On Nov. 2, 2007, Brock Hopkins knew he'd be feeding the bears again. And knowing that feeding bears is a rather stressful business, he wanted to get his mind right. So naturally, he smoked a bunch of weed. Of course, when the bear mauled him and he went to claim workers' compensation, his employer drug-tested him, found the pot in his system, and said "No way, bro" to compensation. Well, after a long, drawn-out trip through the courts, the Montana Supreme Court has just ruled that bears are indeed "equal opportunity maulers."

The attack happened at the Great Bear Adventures park near Glacier National Park. Hopkins entered the bear pen with some food, and soon found a large grizzly chewing on his buttocks and legs instead.

Later his hospital bills would top $65,000. But when Hopkins claimed compensation, his boss said he was too high and too negligent to be paid.

AP:

[Great Bear Adventures] owner Russell Kilpatrick, who did not have workers' compensation coverage, argued that Hopkins was a volunteer who Kilpatrick occasionally gave cash to "out of his heart." Hopkins fed the bears that day after Kilpatrick told him not to because he was tapering their food as they prepared for hibernation, Kilpatrick said.

Montana's Workers' Compensation Court disagreed, saying that the bear would have bitten him whether he was stoned or not, calling grizzlies "equal opportunity maulers."

Now the highest court in the state has agreed, and Hopkins will be paid about $35,000 in discounted medical-bill compensation.

It's unclear whether any of that money could be used to cover a medical-marijuana prescription. Lord knows a bear mauling victim ought to qualify.

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