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Legal Marijuana Reduces Worker Compensation Claims

Indica Vs. SativaOne of the many fears expressed by opponents to legal marijuana was the supposed detrimental effect in the workplace.  Some cannabis skeptics thought that it would affect workers’ productivity and cause injuries. There were also concerns about a possible rise in cannabis abuse.  The opposition was sufficiently strong that cannabis testing was introduced by some employers determined to avoid any potential risks.

Cannabis users and enthusiasts strongly fought this view and now, as more and more states have legalized marijuana statistics are becoming available to support their stance.

As against the negative propaganda that was, and in some cases still is, spread by skeptics, states where cannabis is legal have reported fewer injuries to workers. In fact, the workers are becoming more productive, and there are fewer workers filing compensation claims in these states!

So Why Is This Happening

A study published with the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that the reductions’ leading cause is the improvement in workers’ capacity. And one of the leading causes is due to the additional benefits that workers derive from the pain-management therapy cannabis offers.

This leads them to the conclusion that legalizing cannabis has improved workers’ health status in specific states, which is an added advantage for such states.

Businesses in many states are required to provide worker’s compensation insurance. When an employee experiences injury at work, the worker’s compensation is supposed to cover the cost of his or her medical bills. Payments are also designed to cushion the impact of lost wages while the employee is recovering.

The aim is to ensure that the government and/or private companies take a share in the worker’s medical costs. Instead of the employee and their family shouldering the entire burden, they get some relief when they file a compensation claim.

One good aspect of this is that where costs and premiums are involved employers, the government and insurers maintain and keep data relating to claims for the purposes of determining costs and benefits as well as premium levels.

The Statistics

The William Paterson University, in its analysis of compensation claims from 2010 to 2018 discovered, not surprisingly that older workers are more vulnerable to health conditions and injury. However, the research also discovered that cannabis serves as a ‘therapeutic substitute” for peculiar issues older workers may face. As a result that had an interesting result in relation to claims.

Older workers (being the most vulnerable) were expected to file more compensation claims because of their supposed failing health. But it turned out that this is not the case in states where these older persons have access to marijuana because it aids with relief for their health conditions and therefore the reason they don’t need to file compensation claims.

Access to marijuana it seems allows for better management of specific symptoms employees experience while working. Workers have attributed relief from chronic pain, insomnia, nausea, and improved mental health to marijuana.

The research showed that older people didn’t file because marijuana was helpful to their health; and even when they did file compensation claims, the amounts were relatively smaller.

The study further revealed a 20% decline in the worker’s compensation benefits with an additional 20.5% decline in annual income received from workers’ compensation.

If workers who use marijuana don’t have more workplace accidents, it is safe to say that marijuana saves businesses costs and improves efficiency. Cannabis is boosting workers’ health, which means that as more states approve legalization there will be a continuing decline in compensation claims filed as years go by.

Other Effects

Apart from the decline in workers’ compensation and its additional costs to employers and states, the legalization of cannabis has encouraged a boom in the American economy by adding more jobs in legal states.

The cannabis industry added over 70,000 jobs in the last year, representing a 32% increase. This makes the cannabis industry one of the country’s fastest-growing job creation sectors. Furthermore, as the use of medical marijuana improves people’s health more of those, who would otherwise remain unemployed or on sickness benefits, are available to return to the job market.  This reduces costs to the government and greatly improves the financial position of the individuals concerned.

Bottom Line

Marijuana and cannabis have come a long way, from being regarded as a dangerous substance to being a beneficial plant that can help people find relief from their health problems. As cannabis provides relief for workers, they do better at work, resulting in a reduction in injuries which leads to fewer worker compensation claims, lost days at work, and improved output. An all-round benefit to employees and their employers.


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