marijuana in the workplace
marijuana in the workplace

Medical Marijuana Laws Translate to Fewer Workplace Fatalities

Legal Cannabis is making the workplace safer

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Thursday Aug 16, 2018

Medical Marijuana Laws Translate to Fewer Workplace Fatalities

How Cannabis Cuts Down on Workplace Fatalities from CannabisNet on Vimeo.


A new study, and the first of its kind, revealed that a drop in workplace deaths has been observed in states with MMJ laws.


The report, which will be published in the October 2018 edition of the International Journal of Drug Policy, analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the years 1992 to 2015. The researchers discovered that workplace fatalities decreased by around 34% in as little as five years after a state legalized medicinal cannabis. Additionally, the observations were most pronounced among employees aged 25 to 44.


The study’s abstract says that their goal “was to determine the association between legalizing medical marijuana and workplace fatalities.”


Since it’s the first study of its kind to examine the relationship between MMJ laws and workplace fatalities, the researchers say that there is a possibility that the results could have been the opposite. There are many reasons that may have contributed to the decrease in workplace deaths; perhaps the fact that access to medical marijuana may have been a good substitute to booze and pharmaceutical drugs, which increase the risk for impairment at work.


Even while the researchers can make assumptions about the causes, the exact reason why is still not understood. But they did find that workplace fatalities were much lower in states that include pain as one of their qualifying conditions for MMJ. “Specifically, legalizing medical marijuana was associated with a 19.8% reduction in the expected number of workplace fatalities among workers aged 25 – 44 if pain was included as a qualifying condition; if pain was not included as a qualifying condition, the association between legalizing medical marijuana and workplace fatalities was not statistically significant.”


Furthermore, the researchers also found that states which legalized the cultivation of cannabis saw less workplace fatalities, which may suggest that better access to cannabis has played a role in reducing workplace fatalities.


The Impact Of Cannabis On Workplace Safety


The American workplace has seen a lot of changes over the last few years, and it will only continue to change as more states address the hot topic of legal cannabis. Employers are going to have to change their HR handbook, and until the issue of cannabis consumption is clearly defined, it will continue to remain a gray area in the workplace.


What does it all mean, even in the face of more people leaving their desk jobs and the 9-to-5 for a life of being connected yet working from anywhere in the world. But employers both big and small will need to buckle down and discuss what cannabis legalization will mean for their company culture, as well as safety and legal issues. The laws are different in each state and the the forecast for federal legalization remains hazy, so this means that there is absolutely no one right answer for how companies should be regulating employee consumption especially if its for a medical condition.  


But one thing’s for sure; a clearly-defined company policy will be needed to reduce any safety risks while protecting employees.


This is especially important for people who work in safety-sensitive jobs such as truck drivers, pipe fitters, crane operators, welders, and more. Although cannabis is safe, it is never advisable to use it when operating machinery because of loss of coordination and distorted perceptions, among other issues.


The confusing and complicated legal landscape, plus conflicting federal and state laws, mean that developing an effective company policy may be challenging but not impossible. Getting legal counsel is recommended to help create sound policies and advise on any drug testing practices to ensure compliance. When new policies are established, employers just don’t need to be consistent in enforcing it, they need to make sure that all employees are briefed properly. Companies will also need to know how to handle employees that show them their MMJ card, in order to prevent issues with regulations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employees can also turn to their existing alcohol consumption guidelines and apply the same policies for cannabis.


By creating or updating standard guidelines on the company policy with regard to substance abuse, employers can ensure safety in the workplace while mitigating any risk.


Medical Cannabis Laws Translate to Fewer Workplace Fatalities from CannabisNet on Vimeo.








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