Updated on August 16, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
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
“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
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%.