Medical Marijuana States Experience Less Workplace Fatalities
Workplace accidents are a common occurrence in the United States (and the world in general). According to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, there were 5,190 reported workplace fatalities in 2016.
Of course, certain industries are more prone to such accidents than others. However, nobody is safe. A simple slip and fall could be deadly, even in a seemingly safe environment, like an office building.
But an April article in Business Insider reveals an interesting trend. Despite fearmongering about accidental injury and death from marijuana impairment, it appears that fatal workplace injuries are declining.
Less Fatal Injuries Among Youth
So far, 33 states have adopted medical marijuana laws, ten of whom allow it for recreational use as well. While plenty of arguments were put forth in support of these initiatives as they made their way through the system, nobody would have imagined their impact on workplace safety.
But according to Business Insider, one study brought forth some interesting revelations:
“The widespread adoption of medical marijuana laws may be having an unexpected effect in the USA: making workplaces safer. Several American states have adopted medical marijuana laws in the last several years. A recent study seems to suggest that states with such laws saw a subsequent drop in the number of workplace fatalities among young adult workers.”
The biggest impact was for workers aged 25 to 44, who enjoyed a 19.5% decrease in fatal workplace incidents.
The change, however, was not as notable for individuals under 25 or over 44.
Medical Cannabis Substituting Other Drugs
According to Business Insider, the notable change is likely the result of individuals giving up more dangerous drugs in favour of medical marijuana:
“The authors suggested that a possible reason for the decline in fatal work injuries for young adult workers could be a result of medical marijuana use as a substitute for more dangerous drugs like alcohol and opioids. They wrote, ‘because the use of alcohol at work is associated with a substantial increase in the risk of injury, and because non-habitual opioid use slows reflexes and impairs cognitive functioning, the enactment of MMLs [medical marijuana laws] could, in theory, make workplaces safer.”
Another interesting revelation comes after a study by Quest Diagnostics. Business Insider says that, according to that study, more U.S. workers are using cannabis. However, there has been a significant decline in opioid detection from drug tests since they hit a peak in 2015.
While the study’s results are promising, the researchers urge caution. As with any statistical comparison, one of the key things to consider is that correlation does not equal causation.
Another issue is that the data itself does not reveal the circumstances of these deaths. Consequently, there is no way to know if impairment was a factor when it could just as easily be faulty equipment, negligence or human error.
WeedAdvisor’s Interest in Public Safety
While not definitive, the idea that medical marijuana can actually improve workplace safety is rather encouraging. There are plenty of areas where we can benefit from cannabis. If a safer work environment happens to be on that list, then that is excellent news.
In our goal to educate the public about the benefits (and drawbacks) or cannabis, we will consistently provide updates on the latest developments regarding cannabis and public safety – be they positive or negative.