Disability InsurersEmployersLawyersMVA Insurers

Study Finds Higher Injury Rates Among Young U.S. Workers Post-Marijuana Legalization

March 19, 2024 from DATAC

With the expansion of recreational cannabis legalization in different jurisdictions, such as U.S. states and Canadian provinces, recent research is shedding light on the wider implications it has on workplace safety and public health. This compilation of recent studies from both countries provides insights into the impact of legislative changes on the well-being of young workers, the occurrence of motor vehicle accidents, and the unfortunate rise in opioid overdose fatalities.


Rising incidence of workplace injuries among young workers

A recent study published in the JAMA Health Forum sheds light on a worrisome pattern observed in the United States subsequent to the legalization of recreational cannabis sales. It reveals a notable 10% rise in workplace injuries among the younger workforce, specifically individuals aged 20 to 34 years. Studies indicate that the use of recreational cannabis may lead to cognitive impairment and decreased attentiveness, potentially increasing the risk of accidents in the workplace.


Impact on Fatalities in Motor Vehicle Accidents

The impact of cannabis legalization on traffic safety is substantial as an analysis published in the journal of Social Science & Medicine on death certificates from 2009 to 2019 reveals a significant 10% rise in fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents subsequent to legalization. Similarly, after the legalization of cannabis in Canada, there was a reported increase in the proportion of drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) in Canada. Statistics Canada reported this rise from 21% in 2018 to 34% in 2019. 


Exploring the Impact of Recreational Cannabis on Public Health

Studies conducted in both the United States and Canada have examined the effects of cannabis legalization on public health outcomes, revealing complex findings. In the United States, there was no notable effect on suicide rates, although there was an average decrease of 11% in deaths caused by opioid overdoses. 


Important Points for Employers and Policymakers to Consider

These findings highlight the importance of implementing specific strategies to minimize the potential hazards linked to recreational cannabis use. With the increasing prevalence of cannabis legalization, it is crucial to prioritize ongoing research and the development of adaptive strategies. Employers and legislators in both countries may need to examine methods to establish a secure and efficient environment, considering the intricate relationship between the legalization of cannabis, public safety, and workplace productivity.




Considering an IME or document review to resolve an insurance claim, legal file, or workplace health and safety issue?

Our specialists provide evidence-based opinions, so get in touch with Western Medical today to learn more about our services.