Researchers at Temple University found about a 20% reduction in the probability that a person reports having any income from workers’ compensation following statewide cannabis legalization, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The study found a 7% reduction in states post medical cannabis legalization and 13.3% in medical cannabis states that provide employment protections for cannabis patients.
Professor Johanna Catherine Maclean, an economist who studies the impact of substance use on the labor market who authored the study, said the research focused on adults 40 to 62-years-old who self-reported workers’ compensation income. The study focused on workers’ compensation because the researchers “viewed it as one proxy for work capacity, which we define as the ability to work productively,” she said in an interview with the Inquirer.
“There’s also some literature from other economists that shows when you legalize marijuana either for medical or recreational use, we see changes in utilization of therapeutic substitutes, like opioids, in insurance claims data. That might mean, say, before you were using opioids to manage your chronic pain. But when we adopt a medical or recreational marijuana law, we see a reduction in prescriptions for refills for things like opioids.”—Maclean to the Inquirer
The researchers also found that non-fatal workplace injuries declined following recreational cannabis legalization.
Maclean added that fewer workers’ compensation claims likely means less workplace disruption as employees may have shorter—or no—work separation due to an injury and don’t require formal health care which helps employers reduce workers’ compensation-related costs.
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