Study: Workers Call In Sick Less Often in Medical Weed States

What's the true effect of weed use on worker absenteeism?

New research examining rates of sick-day usage by the American workforce in states that have enacted medical marijuana laws, before and after the weed rules were put into place, suggests the frequency of employee absenteeism is lower in states that allow access to medical marijuana.

Analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey, economist Darin F. Ullman writes in the Journal of Health Economics: “respondents were 8 percent less likely to report being absent from work due to health issues after [states passed] medical marijuana laws.” 

Essentially, Ullman says employees who blaze down (responsibly), or treat migraines with medical marijuana, might be better for the bottom line.  “[Medical marijuana laws] would decrease costs for employers as it has reduced self-reported absence from work due to illness/medical issues,” Ullman concludes. 

The Washington Post breaks down just how elastic the reach of the research truly is:

“Ullman's study can say that sick-day use decreased after the passage of medical marijuana laws. But it can't say medical marijuana caused that decrease. There are any number of factors that could have accounted for a drop in absenteeism in the states Ullman studied—better access to health care, better workplace wellness programs, improved employee health overall, etc. The decline in absenteeism could be driven more by any of those factors than by whatever happened to the state's marijuana laws.”

(Those quibbles from the Post depend, however, on a presumption that health-care access, workplace wellness programs, and overall employee health are on a trajectory of improvement, a presumption that, seriously now, is laughable.)

Researcher Ullman further notes that states with less-restrictive medical marijuana laws had less workers calling in sick than states with strict medical pot rules. The academic also posits that enacting medical marijuana laws might cut down on other chemical factors that contribute to worker call-outs, such as alcohol consumption. 

Research into any effects on absenteeism related to the release dates of any new Netflix Original Series has yet-to-be conducted. But scientists have certainly studied stranger things.