State medical marijuana laws (MML) are associated with fewer workers’ compensation claims, suggesting that cannabis reduces disability and allows more people to get back to work.
The study, published in the journal Health Economics, looked at the association between medical marijuana laws and workers’ compensation claims over 23 years, from 1989 to 2012. The authors found a nearly 7% drop in claims during this time.
There is significant overlap in conditions that workers can claim workers’ compensation for, such as chronic pain, and those approved for medical marijuana use in many states. “An injured or ill worker may be better able to treat symptoms and hence return to work more quickly or possibly not require a work separation to recuperate from an injury/illness, post MML,” the authors wrote. Similarly, workers with a previous injury may be better able to manage lingering symptoms allowing them to return to work sooner.
“Our findings suggest that some people who use marijuana following a state adoption of MML use the product medically; this use improves symptom management, increases work capacity, and reduces the need for workers compensation,” says Catherine Maclean, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, Temple University. The reduction appears to be both from people not requiring a claim at all and potentially having shorter claims when they do claim.
Other research has found that in states with medical marijuana laws, workers were 8% less likely to report being absent from work due to health issues after medical marijuana laws were passed. In states with more “lax” medical marijuana laws, the rate of absenteeism dropped 13%.