The number of sick days taken by employees across the US has been steadily increasing over the years. Many initiatives have been launched to reduce the impacts of these sick days. But, a recent study published in Health Economics has suggested that states which have legalized medicinal cannabis tend to have lower rates of absenteeism compared to states that have not yet legalized medicinal marijuana.
The author of the report, Darin Ulman, was incredibly encouraged by the findings. Currently, there are 25 states in the USA, that allow the usage of medicinal marijuana. Pro marijuana lobbyists hope that this latest piece of research can be used to positively affect the debate. In his study, Ulman used a model called a linear probability model which allowed him to make sense of the absentee data of those 25 states that allow medicinal marijuana. When the results were collected, it was found that these states had a decrease in absenteeism of between 8 and 15% compared to states which hadn’t legalized medicinal marijuana.
Other results collected include the finding that employees between the age of 50 and 59 who were full time members of staff, were 13% less likely to miss a day of work because of sickness. Conversely, those employees that were aged between 40 and 49 were also less likely to take a sick day (an 11% reduction) and employees aged between 30 and 39 who had a 16% reduction.
The costs to businesses of employee absenteeism are quite staggering. It is estimated that $84 billion in lost productivity is the direct result of sick days taken by the country’s employees. The findings that Ulman identified suggests that this $84 billion cost could be lowered by legalizing medicinal marijuana across the USA, which also has a benefit of increasing productivity.Ulman was careful to say that medicinal marijuana was the only contributor to the lower absenteeism in states were marijuana was legalized. He suggested that some more research will need to be completed in order to verify and make further sense of the findings identified in this study.
But, all the signs point to the fact that medicinal marijuana has an overall positive effect on the health of an employee, as the substance can be used as a therapeutic treatment for conditions such as chronic pain, nausea, sleeping problems and helping to increase appetite, aswell as reducing anxiety and depression. Other research has also identified that medicinal marijuana can also have positive benefits to patients who suffer from more serious conditions such as MS, glaucoma, epilepsy and even cancer. The more research that is completed in this area of employee absenteeism, says Ulman, the more likely the research will lead to legislation change across the country. Ulman says that this will only be a matter of time. In these difficult financial times, reducing this $84 billion figure with a medicinal marijuana roll out is vitally important. The positive impact on workplace sick days with a cannabis roll out is certainly something to consider.