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Worker Compensation Claims Drop In States With Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana laws create ripple effects beyond managing serious illnesses, such as decreasing workers compensation claims.

States legalize medical marijuana to help patients manage an array of major conditions, including cancer, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, and depression. Medical cannabis also allows individuals to manage minor injuries and general inflammation caused by their jobs. In turn, this could lead to a decline in workers’ compensation claims, a new study finds.

Published in Health Economics, the study highlights how medical marijuana laws create ripple effects beyond managing serious illnesses. By analyzing survey data between 1989 and 2012, researchers determined medical marijuana legalization causes a 6.7% decline in workers’ comp claims for workers ages 15 and older. There was also a modest decrease in the propensity to claim as well as the amount of money paid out by workers’ comp.

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“The findings suggest additional benefits to expanded access to medical marijuana: increased work capacity and less reliance on social insurance programs among workers,” said Johanna Catherine Maclean, a corresponding author on the study.

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Medical marijuana created positive effects beyond workers comp claims, according to the study’s researchers. Older adults in medical marijuana states displayed increases in work capacity. In addition, the study reported reduced work absences and improved workplace safety as a result of medical marijuana’s effect on workers.

Last year, a study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found that access to medical marijuana dropped the rate of workplace fatalities. “Legalizing medical marijuana was associated with a 19.5% reduction in the expected number of workplace fatalities among workers aged 25–44,” the study reported.

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Making workplaces safer and lowering the amount companies pay out in workers’ comp claims seems like a win-win for both parties involved. Researchers behind the study agree.

“Policymakers may wish to consider these benefits when considering medical marijuana regulation,” Maclean said.

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