Study Indicates Workplace Fatalities Drop With Cannabis Legalization

By Benjie Cooper

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An entire industry was built around the sometimes-inevitable need to pass a pre-employment drug screening, largely by individuals who either regularly partake in cannabis-related activities or just happened to have smoked a joint with friends recently and want to be sure they’ll pass.

Legal status of cannabis aside, the notion that cannabis users are somehow potentially less productive and more accident-prone than their fellow non-cannabinoid-consuming workplace counterparts is one that has prompted many a potential worker to drive to their local head shop to purchase a bottle of fake urine or detox concoction.

But data from a new study published by the International Journal of Drug Policy is challenging the idea that marijuana users are a danger to themselves and others while on the job.

Researchers from Montana State University, the University of Colorado, and School of Public Affairs analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics Regression model data from all fifty United States and the District of Columbia, regardless of marijuana’s legal status, between the years of 1992 and 2015.

The goal of the study was to determine the association between legalizing medicinal cannabis and workplace fatalities.

“The association between legalizing medical marijuana and workplace fatalities among workers aged 16–24, although negative, was not statistically significant at conventional levels,” state the authors in the abstract. “The association between legalizing medical marijuana and workplace fatalities among workers aged 25-44 grew stronger over time.”

The authors write that within the 25 to 44 age group, the legalization of medicinal cannabis was associated with a 33.7% reduction in workplace fatalities after five years.

The study concludes by saying that the results are evidence that medicinal cannabis legalization improves workplace safety for individuals the specific age group, and that additional research is necessary to determine whether the result is due to reduced consumption of drugs and alcohol which memory, impair cognitive function, and motor skills.