Effects of Medical Marijuana on Workers’ Compensation

Medical MarijuanaLess Workers’ Comp Claims and Smaller Payout Amounts

Workers who use medical marijuana are statistically less likely to file a workers’ compensation claim. That is the news coming out of a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, conducted by researchers from William Paterson University, University of Cincinnati, Temple University, and the RAND Corporation. The study was confined to workers aged 40-62 years, and conducted within the years 2010-2018. [1]

The research found that of the states that have legalized medical marijuana, a 20 percent drop in workers’ compensation claims was observed post-legalization. In addition, an average of a 20.5 percent decrease in annual income from workers’ compensation claims was observed in states post-legalization.[2] A 2020 study done by researchers at Temple University in Pennsylvania and the University of Cincinnati found a less statistically significant result on the same issue, with findings that conclude a 6.7% drop in workers’ comp filings.[3][4] The tally for states that allow medical marijuana to some degree has reached 36, in addition to the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.[5]

Positive Effects of Medical Marijuana

In the 2020 study, researchers found that medical marijuana, or cannabis, can increase the number of hours worked by those who used it. In addition, a decrease in work absences was concluded. Workplace safety could also improve on these counts, possibly due to increased stability and better mood.[6]

Medical marijuana is known to reduce chronic pain symptoms, as well as help treat mental health issues. Although it is not a cure, it is therapeutic and can improve people’s livelihoods.[7] It is often touted as an alternative to opioids.[8] Older workers are more likely to return to work (sooner) following use of medical marijuana. Working as opposed to not working has improvements for an individual’s mental health.[9] Not only is cannabis a boon in this respect, but it also eases the burden on workers’ compensation systems in many states.

More Supply

In 2019, a N.J. appeals court indefinitely halted granting licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries.[10] A total of 146 applications to grow medical marijuana in N.J. were paused for over a year. Now, with that stay lifted, there will be more supply in the state of N.J., and people will have more access to medical marijuana.[11]

Impact on Women

One author stated that these findings should have more of an impact among women, who are more prone to chronic pain.[12] The author also states that women have historically been less likely to use illegal marijuana, because of its illegality.[13]Women are now most of the U.S. workforce, clocking in at over 50%, excluding farm workers and self-employed people.[14] Medical marijuana should bring more women into the workforce.

Getting People Back to Work

The impact this can have on a national labor force is significant. National gross domestic product (GDP) would be poised to increase simply due to more people working. Social security will be less burdened.[15] Many employers fight paying their (former) employees workers’ comp in court. Employers and businesses are most likely celebrating this development, due to prospects of paying less people workers’ comp. More insurers are now covering medical marijuana than in previous times. There has been an upward trend to decriminalize, and legalize medical marijuana, including recreational marijuana. This trend is only set to continue this path. What is most important is that there are now additional remedies for pain more readily available, compared to years back, that people can use at their dispense. Getting people back to work has been a theme during the pandemic and this only contributes towards that cause.

 

[1] Keshner, Andrew. “Marijuana Mystery? Fewer Older Employees File Workers’ Compensation Claims in States Where Cannabis Is Legalized.” MarketWatch, MarketWatch, Inc., 17 Feb. 2021, www.marketwatch.com/story/one-potential-payoff-from-recreational-marijuana-has-nothing-to-do-with-cannabis-industry-jobs-11613511080.

[2] Norml. “Study: Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization Laws Associated with Declines in Workers’ Compensation Claims.” NORML, NORML and the NORML Foundation, 18 Feb. 2021, norml.org/blog/2021/02/18/study-adult-use-marijuana-legalization-laws-associated-with-declines-in-workers-compensation-claims/.

[3] Armentano, Paul. “Study: Medical Cannabis Access Associated with Fewer Workers’ Comp Claims.” NORML, NORML and the NORML Foundation, 11 Feb. 2020, norml.org/blog/2020/02/11/study-medical-cannabis-access-associated-with-fewer-workers-comp-claims/.

[4] Carroll, Linda. “Access to Medical Marijuana Tied to Reduced Workers’ Comp Claims.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 7 Feb. 2020, www.reuters.com/article/us-health-cannabis-workers-comp/access-to-medical-marijuana-tied-to-reduced-workers-comp-claims-idUSKBN2012MY.

[5] Anonymous. “State Medical Marijuana Laws.” NCSL, National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 Feb. 2021, www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx#:~:text=A%20total%20of%2036%20states,available%20medical%20marijuana%2Fcannabis%20programs.

[6] Norml. “Study: Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization Laws Associated with Declines in Workers’ Compensation Claims.” NORML, NORML and the NORML Foundation, 18 Feb. 2021, norml.org/blog/2021/02/18/study-adult-use-marijuana-legalization-laws-associated-with-declines-in-workers-compensation-claims/.

 

[7] Carroll, Linda. “Access to Medical Marijuana Tied to Reduced Workers’ Comp Claims.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 7 Feb. 2020, www.reuters.com/article/us-health-cannabis-workers-comp/access-to-medical-marijuana-tied-to-reduced-workers-comp-claims-idUSKBN2012MY.

[8] Keshner, Andrew. “Marijuana Mystery? Fewer Older Employees File Workers’ Compensation Claims in States Where Cannabis Is Legalized.” MarketWatch, MarketWatch, Inc., 17 Feb. 2021, www.marketwatch.com/story/one-potential-payoff-from-recreational-marijuana-has-nothing-to-do-with-cannabis-industry-jobs-11613511080.

[9] Edward, Thomas. “New Study Suggests Link Between Cannabis Legalization And Decline In Workers Comp Claims.” High Times, High Times, 19 Feb. 2021, hightimes.com/news/new-study-suggests-link-between-cannabis-legalization-decline-workers-comp-claims/.

[10] Davis, Mike. “More Medical Marijuana Dispensaries! NJ Can Issue New Licenses after Court Ruling.” App, Www.app.com, 18 Feb. 2021, www.app.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/marijuana/2021/02/18/nj-medical-marijuana-dispensaries-licenses-legal-weed/6799073002/.

[11] Hoover, Amanda. “N.J. Can Resume Issuing New Medical Marijuana Licenses after Court Ruling Settles Lawsuit.” NJ, Advance Local Media, LLC, 18 Feb. 2021, www.nj.com/marijuana/2021/02/nj-can-resume-issuing-new-med-marijuana-licenses-after-court-ruling-settles-lawsuit.html.

[12] Mullen, Caitlin. “Medical Marijuana Linked to Small Decline in Workers’ Comp Claims.” Bizjournals.com, American City Business Journals, 14 Feb. 2020, www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/news/latest-news/2020/02/medical-marijuana-linked-to-small-decline-in.html?page=all.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Law, Tara. “Women Are Now the Majority of the U.S. Workforce — But Working Women Still Face Serious Challenges.” Time, Time USA, LLC, 16 Jan. 2020, time.com/5766787/women-workforce/.

[15] Edward, Thomas. “New Study Suggests Link Between Cannabis Legalization And Decline In Workers Comp Claims.” High Times, High Times, 19 Feb. 2021, hightimes.com/news/new-study-suggests-link-between-cannabis-legalization-decline-workers-comp-claims/.

WorkplaceLawyers.com is the website for the workers compensation attorneys firm of Livingston, DiMarzio LLP Our team of attorneys is made up of New Jersey Mesothelioma Lawyers, NJ Workers Comp Lawyers, Employment Lawyers and Certified New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Attorneys.