Fewer Older Workers File Employee Compensation Claims in States Where Marijuana Is Legalized


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In the ongoing debate about full legalization of marijuana, a new study offers proponents this potential payoff: cheaper workers’ compensation claims for injured workers. In states that legalized full recreational marijuana use for adults between 2010 and 2018, fewer older workers filed workers’ compensation claims and when they did, the payments tended to be smaller, according to new research released by the National Office of Economic Research.

Employers pay workers’ compensation funds that provide income to injured employees who are unable to go to work. But when workers in pain have easier access to marijuana as a form of chronic pain management, that can completely reduce their need for workers’ compensation and keep them working, according to economists at Temple University, University of Cincinnati. , William Paterson University and the RAND Corporation. “Once marijuana becomes legal for recreational use among adults, many people use it for medicinal purposes,” including pain management, said Temple University professor Catherine Maclean, one of the study’s authors. Surveys over the years back Maclean and show that many people consider cannabis for health reasons rather than getting high. Maclean and his colleagues reviewed recurring surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that questioned more than 500,000 people, even asking whether the person received workers’ compensation, and if so, how much? In states where cannabis became fully legal, 20% fewer workers between the ages of 40 and 62 said they received some workers’ compensation in the past year compared to the model for those same states if they had not authorized the use full recreational. Average payments in those states fell $ 21.98, compared to a baseline of about $ 100. The findings echo previous Maclean research, which found a 13% decrease in adult workers’ compensation claims. Greater as medical marijuana statutes were extended from 1990 to 2012. In the examined time frame of 2010 to 2018, eight states and Washington DC authorized recreational use by adults, she noted. Nationwide, workers received $ 62.9 billion in workers’ compensation benefits in 2018, 1.2% less than in 2014, according to the National Academy of Social Security. The study does not argue for or against recreational marijuana use, but it comes as more states legalize full use for adults. Voters in four states approved recreational use for adults on the November 2020 ballot questions. Counting those states, 15 states and Washington DC have legalized cannabis for recreational use and 34 states allow the use of medical marijuana. Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Shares in the cannabis industry rallied earlier this month when Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said he would prioritize reform of the legislation. In general, stocks in the cannabis industry have risen to the market’s bid for greater acceptance by the government. The study also comes as Americans around the world are faced with opioids, powerful pain relievers that can quickly lead to addiction. The new study points to previous research that says opioid-related deaths may drop between 20% and 35% as legal marijuana becomes prevalent. The 2018 research looked at the links between opioid use and workers’ compensation claims. Workers who were prescribed opioids tended to be off workers’ compensation for longer periods tended to be off work for longer periods, according to the study. Workers’ compensation claims aside, the ability to keep working increases the ability to earn money for life and life satisfaction, Maclean and the other authors noted. Maclean said she and her co-authors are not trying to take sides in the debate over marijuana legalization. But the findings can speak for themselves, he said. The expanded access “is allowing workers to have a better work capacity. That seems like a good thing. ”