How does medical marijuana impact the workplace?

A new study published in the journal Health Economics suggests employee absences due to sickness decline following the legalization of medical marijuana.

The research was done by economist Darin F. Ullman, PhD, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey.

For the study, Dr. Ullman examined sick leave data from 24 states that had medical marijuana laws at the time of his research, reports The Washington Post. He found, on average, employees were 8 percent less likely to report being absent from work due to health issues after medical marijuana laws were approved, the article states.

He also found that there was more of a decrease in sick leave use in states with "lax" medical marijuana regulations, for full-time workers, and for middle-aged men, which is the group most likely to hold medical marijuana cards.

While Dr. Ullman's research suggests the medical marijuana laws themselves could be a driver of the reduced absenteeism seen in the BLS data, the study can't say that medical marijuana caused sick leave use to decline, The Washington Post points out. According to the report, Dr. Ullman said a drop in absenteeism in states that had legalized medical marijuana could also have been caused by a number of factors, such as better access to healthcare, better workplace wellness programs and improved employee health overall.



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