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Legal Cannabis States See Reduction in Workers’ Compensation Claims



States with recreational cannabis have seen a decrease in claims over workplace injuries and an increase in productivity, according to a new study.

The study, which analyzed data from workers’ compensation benefit receipts and workers’ compensation claims, was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It showed that there were overall declines “both in terms of the propensity to receive benefits and benefit amount” across numerous legal states. They also noticed “complementary declines in non-traumatic workplace injury rates and the incidence of work-limiting disabilities.”

This data directly disproves assumptions about legal cannabis in the workplace—among some of the most common stereotypes is the presence of lower productivity. “We offer evidence that the primary driver of these reductions [in workers’ compensation] is an improvement in work capacity, likely due to access to an additional form of pain management therapy,” the study added.

“Our results show a decline in workers’ compensation benefit propensity of 0.18 percentage points, which corresponds to a 20 percent reduction in any workers’ compensation income, after states legalize marijuana for recreational use,” the study text continues. “Similarly, we find that annual income received from workers’ compensation declines by $21.98 (or 20.5 percent) post-[recreational marijuana legalization]. These results are not driven by pre-existing trends, and falsification exercises suggest that observing estimates of this magnitude is statistically rare.”

The researchers also posed suggestions as to why these decreases occurred, suggesting that cannabis as a medicine can lead to “…better management of symptoms that impede work capacity—e.g., chronic pain, insomnia, mental health problems, nausea, and so forth.” Researchers also identified chronic pain among one of the most common reasons that patients seek out medical cannabis.

Despite the concerns of those against recreational cannabis, employees seem to be benefitting wherever the medical cannabis industry is legal.

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