Study Finds Workplace Fatalities Dropped in States With Medical Marijuana

Study Finds Workplace Fatalities Dropped in States With Medical Marijuana

In states with legal medical cannabis programs in place, workplace safety continues to be a paramount concern. The multifaceted issue impacts employees, obviously, but also their employers. In many states, offices continue to sanction employees who use medical marijuana legally. There also doesn’t seem to be much clarity on the question of workers compensation claims for medical cannabis patients, or whether insurance companies can claim cannabis as a cause of a workplace injury or death.

But how does medical cannabis legalization actually impact workplace safety? Do medical marijuana patients really pose a hazard to themselves and co-workers? A brand new study published in Drug Policy says no.

A new study at The International Journal of Drug Policy investigates the relationship between states with medical marijuana programs and workplace fatalities. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data from all 50 U.S. countries between 1992 and 2015, the study hones in on employees in two age groups.

For employees aged 25-44, researchers associated legal medical marijuana with a 19.5 percent reduction in the expected variety of workplace deaths. For younger employees 16-24, researchers also found a reduction. However, for that category, the reduction in fatalities wasn’t statistically significant. The data means, however, that legalizing medical cannabis didn’t lead to an increase in deaths.

The study found that the association between authorized medical marijuana and a decline in workplace fatalities grew stronger over time. Programs active for five decades, for instance, saw a 33.7 percent reduction in the expected number of deaths.

In summary, medical marijuana didn’t have a negligible effect on workplace safety. It actually made offices safer.

Is Medical Marijuana Making It Safer To Go To Work?

The safest offices, measured by a reduction in workplace deaths, were those in states with medical cannabis laws that list pain as a qualifying condition and that allow personal cultivation. To put it differently, states that don’t list pain, or don’t allow patients to grow their own cannabis, saw lower reductions.

And there’s a connection, researchers suggest, between improved workplace safety and medical cannabis. Studies have shown that THC has certain short-term effects on psychomotor performance and cognition. It stands to reason that these impacts would contribute to more workplace accidents, not less.

However, the study doesn’t mention anything about CBD or cannabidiol. Many medical cannabis patients utilize CBD products not only because it’s the most suitable for their symptoms, but because CBD doesn’t produce the psychoactive effects THC does. So patients who use medical cannabis with cannabidiol may not be high at work. And therefore, there’s no visible increase in accidents associated with them.

The authors of this Drug Policy study, however, have another theory. They point to previous studies which have documented how legal medical marijuana contributes to substantial reductions in the use of alcohol, opioids, and other substances. If employees are using less of those substances, which definitely cause significant motor and cognitive impairment, it makes sense that workplaces are getting less deadly. The analysis ’s authors are calling for further investigation into exactly that phenomenon.

Released at Fri, 10 Aug 2018 23:16:42 +0000

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