Medical marijuana and workplace safety–a non-issue indicates new report

Medical marijuana and workplace safety–a non-issue indicates new report

Do states with legalized medical marijuana see an increase in employment related injuries or illnesses? You could probably argue the point either way, but what do the statistics show?

A study of workplace safety in Oregon shows clearly that going to work in that state gets safer every year. It’s one of the steadiest graphs you could ever see.

So, what happened when Oregon legalized medical marijuana way back in 1998? Nothing. What happened when the number of users went from 10,000 to 40,000? Nothing. Workplaces continue to get safer with nary a bump of any kind.


During testimony in 2009 in the House Business & Labor Committee, members of the business lobby Associated Oregon Industries fought against a bill to recognize workplace rights for medical marijuana patients. Michael Adamski of The Stoller Group, a temporary labor agency, stated it was “irresponsible” to allow employed medical marijuana patients “to have marijuana in their systems, putting the safety of everyone around them in jeopardy.”

Yet data on workplace safety and productivity since the advent of the medical marijuana program show that claim to be unfounded. Prior to the beginning of the medical marijuana program, workplace injuries and illnesses that contributed to a lost workday stood at 3.4 per 100 full-time workers; in 2009 that rate is 2.3 per 100, a decline of 32%.

These declines occurred while the medical marijuana patient registry grew by an average of a little more than 50% per year.

Commenting on the research, NORML Outreach Coordinator Russ Belville said, “While correlation does not equal causation – we can’t say medical marijuana laws made the workplaces safer – we certainly do not see any correlation between Oregon workplace safety statistics and Associated Oregon Industries’ scaremongering about the threat of patients in the workplace.”

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About the Author

Scot Kersgaard

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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