With cannabis legalization a possibility or a reality throughout many parts of North America, employment experts are understandably concerned about its possible negative effects on the workforce. But a new study offers evidence that medical marijuana legalization leads to reductions in workplace fatalities.
A study published in the International Journal of Drug Policies by researchers D. Mark Anderson, Daniel I. Rees, and Erdal Tekin used data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The study found that:
Legalizing medical marijuana was associated with a 19.5% reduction in the expected number of workplace fatalities among workers aged 25–44...Five years after coming into effect, [Medical Marijuana Laws] were associated with a 33.7% reduction in the expected number of workplace fatalities.
Also worth noting is the fact that medical marijuana laws with which pain is a qualifying condition "were associated with larger reductions in fatalities among workers aged 25–44 than those that did not."
Although the workplace death statistics among workers aged 16-24 also decreased, these findings were "not statistically significant at conventional levels."
So what does this all mean? Further research is needed to determine the exact cause behind the evidence, but there are encouraging signs that medical marijuana availability can reduce self-medication with alcohol and other substances that impair. As D. Mark Anderson told Leafly, “At the end of the day, we could only speculate as to why these laws may have affected workplace events.”
Nevertheless, these are encouraging figures which should be investigated even further.