It's estimated that absenteeism costs American industries approximately $24-billion every year. And according to a new study examining the frequency of sick days in states with medical marijuana programs, legalization could actually increase productivity, and thereby decrease the cost of doing business.

The study, published this month in the journal Health Economics, found that safe, legal access to medical marijuana resulted in a “statistically significant decline" in employee sick leave. Illness-related absences dropped anywhere from 8 to 15 percent in states where medical marijuana was legal, compared to those compared to states where pot is still against the law.

Using  current Population Survey data, according to SF Gate, the study found absences due to sickness went down following the legalization. “The effect is stronger in states with ‘lax’ medical marijuana regulations, for full-time workers, and for middle-aged males, which is the group most likely to hold medical marijuana cards," writes study author Darin F. Ulman.

“Although there is not a direct identification of those who use marijuana for medical purposes in the data, overall sickness absence is reduced for those in age and gender groups most likely to be cardholders,” adding that “given the lack of prior studies, more research is warranted in this area.”

h/t SF Gate