• November 27, 2020

Study: Past Marijuana Use No Risk for Workplace Injuries

 Study: Past Marijuana Use No Risk for Workplace Injuries

Photo by US Army Corps of Engineers, via Flickr

When it comes to safety issues, even past marijuana has been deemed a risk factor for employment — but a new study casts doubt on that trope. 

Researchers from the University of Toronto’s Department of Occupational Medicine published a study recently digging into the relationship between people’s past usage of marijuana and workplace safety and injuries. 

The investigators analyzed responses from over 136,000 workers from the 2013-2016 Canadian Community Health Surveys, calculating the odds of getting a work-related injury for individuals who reported using marijuana more than once during the last year as compared to non-users. The researchers also repeated their analysis for workers with higher-injury-risk occupations.

The researchers didn’t find anything significant linking workers who’d used marijuana to a higher risk of injury in any occupation. Their study adds to a growing body of studies tracking how marijuana affects people once they clock in. 

One study looked at associations between work-related injuries and factors, such as obesity, alcohol consumption, and drug use for construction workers. The researchers found that using marijuana wasn’t a significant risk factor for work-related injuries.

Another study from a pair of researchers from San Diego State University and Auburn University pivoted in a different direction, looking at how marijuana could affect job performance. They didn’t find an association between marijuana use and negative job performance. That research combats the common stereotype of lazy and aloof cannabis users.

While there’s plenty of research currently out there about marijuana use and the workplace — and certainly more to come — employers in many states can still require pre-employment marijuana tests during the hiring process and can disqualify people from jobs or fire them based on their usage history. For example, in Florida, employers aren’t required to accommodate medical marijuana users, which isn’t grounds for a discrimination claim even though the state legalized medical marijuana.

However, in recent years, lawmakers in several municipalities moved away from policies requiring marijuana testing and pushed forward with legislation limiting those kinds of tests. Last year in Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an order dictating that city agencies couldn’t create their own policies on employee cannabis use. It also stated that marijuana use can’t be a factor in whether someone gets or keeps a government job. And this year in New York City, the council approved a ban on pre-employment marijuana testing.

The researchers recommended occupational medical practitioners to “take a risk-based approach to drafting workplace cannabis policies” while waiting for more studies to come out about how marijuana can affect users in the workplace.

Gabrielle Lewis

Gabrielle Lewis

Gabrielle Lewis is a journalist at the University of Maryland College Park. She has written and edited for the school's flagship newspaper, The Diamondback, as well as other campus publications. You can find her on Twitter @gabrielleslewis.

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