New study finds legal cannabis states see lower rates of workers’ compensation claims

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Cincinnati Ash Blue College and Temple University hypothesizes that medical cannabis legalization results in less workers’ compensation claims. 

Moreover, the researchers believe that, in the event of a workers’ compensation claim being filed, the costs are generally lower post-legalization. 

“Our estimates show that, post-medical cannabis law, workers’ compensation claiming declines, both the propensity to claim and the level of income from WC,” reads an excerpt from the study authors.

In order to reach this conclusion, the team analyzed survey data from annual interviews conducted between the years 1989 and 2012. The data was pulled from approximately 150,000 U.S. residents aged 15 or above.

As per the findings, the effects were described by the authors as being “quite modest in size.” Specifically, a 0.1 percent reduction in “propensity to claim” was noted by the team, who also acknowledged a 0.8 percent drop in the fiscal amount of claims once medical cannabis became available in specific U.S. states.

The research, which has never been carried out before, was published early February in the academic journal Health Economics. In summary, the researchers highlighted a 6.7 percent reduction in workers’ compensation claims after states enacted medical cannabis laws.

Although the results were “statistically significant,” the study authors determined that the outcome “may not reflect economically significant changes.”

Medical cannabis may help workers to cope with workplace injury-related symptoms

One of the key takeaways that researchers have pulled from this study on cannabis and workers’ compensation claims pertains to the benefits of using the plant for workplace-related injuries. 

Symptoms can be managed much better when the plant is consumed, say the researchers, who theorized that allowing workers to “better manage symptoms associated with workplace injuries and illnesses” can “reduce need for [workers’ compensation].”

“These findings offer suggestive evidence that, post [medical cannabis law], workers use [cannabis] medically to treat symptoms associated with work-related injuries and illnesses and that [cannabis] is effective in reducing symptom burden associated with these ailments.”

Aside from this, the study outlines the advantages of broadening access to medical cannabis in the workplace, such as its ability to bolster “work capacity among older adults, reduce work absences, improve workplace safety, and reduce [workers’ compensation] claiming and the pain and suffering associated with workplace injuries.”

Study indicates the significant impact(s) that medical cannabis laws have on labor markets

The researchers are overly pleased about the fact that their findings bulk up a swelling body of research covering the repercussions that medical cannabis laws have had on labor markets. 

Various research indicates the economic influence that cannabis has on the business environment. For example, one study discovered “a multitude of positive effects” on firms located in states that have enacted medical cannabis laws.

In regards to worker health, numerous studies have indicated that cannabis may help employees struggling with chronic pain and other ailments, such as this one. Considering the fact that cannabis may help replace opioid medications which, in many cases, can be lethal, offering cannabis treatments could also slash the risk of fatal overdoses.

Moreover, this study discovered that the number of workplace fatalities fell 34 percent five years after a state legalized cannabis for medical purposes. With this in mind, it’s likely that legalization could have a profound effect on the rate of workplace incidents.