Workplace Deaths Go Down with Access to Medical Marijuana … By a Lot

Recent research out of American University, Colorado State University, and Montana State University delved into a medical marijuanacorrelation between workplace fatalities and the legalization of medical marijuana, and the discoveries could be surprising to many. The data points compiled fly in the face of anti-marijuana rhetoric that has been peddled as “common sense” for decades and show, in fact, a sharp decline in fatal workplace accidents as access to medical marijuana increases. The research is set to be published in The International Journal of Drug Policy, and according to a report from Colorado Springs Independent, the connection the research demonstrated between continuous decreases in fatalities in the workplace and medical marijuana is compelling.

Researchers compiled data from 1992 to 2015, providing a set that included the several years leading up to the passage of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which legalized medical marijuana in California, making it the first state to do so. The study followed other states as well and found that deaths from workplace accidents would drop about 34 percent after medical marijuana had been legal in that state for five years. The connection was most notable in the age group of 25- to 44-year-olds, which demonstrated a 19.8 percent reduction.
It was unclear what researchers would uncover going into the study given that there had never been an opportunity to collect this kind of data before. Additionally, it would seem reasonable that introducing a drug into society that had the potential for impairment could lead to an increase of incidents on the job, leading to more fatal accidents. Now that the numbers are demonstrating an opposite effect, however, we have an opportunity to learn more about cannabis and its effects.

One possible cause is what researchers call substitution theory. Our experienced Orange County medical marijuana lawyers can explain, substitution theory in simply when one factor in an observed setting is replaced by another. This, as it turns out, happens frequently when medical marijuana is introduced into an area, most significantly when chronic pain is a condition in which the state at-hand allows marijuana as a treatment. Frequently those with chronic pain turn to alcohol or strong, addictive painkillers, such as opioids.

If workers were turning to these substances during or before their shifts, the effects could be extremely negative, with impairments so severe it could easily lead to a fatal accident. If workers were to substitute these extreme forms of pain management with something like cannabis, they might experience some impairment for a limited time, but, as it’s turning out, not to the same effect of other previously more accessible substances. Of particular note is the use of CBD, in which patients would reap some of the benefits of cannabis without the sensation of feeling high. CBD does not have the psychoactive compounds of its cannabis sister THC, and therefore makes a very practical solution for those who need help with fewer impairment concerns. Ease of access also seemed to play a role, with significant drops in fatal accidents in areas where collective cultivation was permitted.

No one denies the need to set up common sense rules and structure around the use of cannabis, similarly to alcohol. The heavy-handed nature by which these rules have been handled, though, is clearly the aftermath of deep-seated propaganda and not in the reality of the dangers of this drug. In light of emerging data, our legal team hopes to see California join other states that have stepped up to protect the rights of workers who consume cannabis off-the-clock.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients, defendants, workers and those facing criminal marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.

Additional Resources:

Workplace Deaths Drop After States Legalize Medical Marijuana, By Kyle Jaeger, Aug. 10, 2018, Marijuana Moment

More Blog Entries:

Maine Won’t Punish Workers for Cannabis Use On Own Time, April 4, 2018, Cannabis Law Group

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