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A new study says workplace fatalities are down in medical cannabis states


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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

A new study has found workplace fatalities are down in states that have legalized medical cannabis, which is encouraging to advocates who claim medical marijuana does not cause harm to public health. Researchers looked at Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 1992 to 2015 and found nearly a 20 percent reduction in workplace fatalities in medical cannabis states for people between the ages of 25-44. There was also a reduction for younger workers, but it was much smaller.

“We observe that workplace fatalities fall after states pass [medical cannabis laws] relative to states that do not pass” those laws, D. Mark Anderson, an associate professor of agricultural economics and economics at Montana State University, told Cannabis News Box. The data didn’t show why this was the case, but Anderson said it could be because alcohol consumption falls after states pass medical cannabis laws. Opioid use also goes down in those states, so that could be a factor that would explain these results.

“Workplace injuries and fatalities do impose substantial costs on society,” Anderson said. “When thinking about the potential costs and benefits associated with the legalization of medical marijuana, issues within the workplace should be considered. Our results suggest that these laws, at least in terms of workplace fatalities, do not impose substantial costs on society.

People who oppose medical and social use cannabis legalization often say that doing so will cause their state to become more dangerous, both in the workplace and beyond, but this data seems to show legalization does not increase danger in the workplace. In fact, it seems to be making workplaces safer.

Another thing this study seems to show is that testing employees for cannabis usage as a requirement for working at a company is not necessary. Companies often cite workplace safety as a reason to drug test employees, but it seems clear that at least when it comes to cannabis usage, there is no negative impact on workplace safety. What someone consumes for medical reasons or just for relaxation reasons after work should not impact their ability to stay employed.

Considering passing medical cannabis laws seems to lead to a safer workplace, less alcohol abuse and less opioid abuse, there are fewer and fewer reasons to believe there are public health concerns to be worried about when considering legalization. If anything, public health is being improved as more and more states legalize medical and social use cannabis.

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A new study says workplace fatalities are down in medical cannabis states