Weed states have less sick days

Weed states have less sick days

CultureJuly 20, 2016 By Reilly Capps

Weed smokers don't wanna work, right? Wasn't that the thinking? Don't even wanna work on their tans. Don't even wanna watch people work. So lazy they might lather and rinse — but they'll never repeat.

That was the worry among non smokers: that after medical marijuana legalization, that the only businesses that would thrive would be the planetarium, the hot dog stand and whatever business Willie Nelson is starting this week.

But science ain't so prejudiced. It just found in states that have passed medical marijuana laws, sick days decline by between 8 and 15 percent.

That's right. Workers show up to work more often after their states legalize medical weed, despite the lure of Strawberry Cough + pajamas + pissing off your parents.

The findings are reported in a study published in Health Economics by a Darin F. Ullman, a health economist with a PhD from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Ullman looked at the correlation between sick days and legalizing medical marijuana, and found a strong correlation.

Correlation is not causation, of course. But, Ullman writes, "absences due to sickness have declined after enactment of (medical marijuana legalization), and the effect is concentrated in worker groups more expected to hold cards," especially middle age males.

In fact, men in states where medical marijuana is legalized are nearly 9 percent less likely to report sick to work, the study reports.

It's a little surprising. But if you think about it, it makes sense, right? After all, marijuana isn't just an awesome way to pass a Saturday night. It's also actually a medicine — that wasn't just an excuse to get high. Not entirely. 

"Given the growing literature," Ullman explains in an email exchange, "marijuana's ability to treat symptoms related to migraines and pain, I hypothesized that one area you might be able to identify an effect would be with sickness absences. For example, if I feel better I'll go to work or report being sick less." 

For example, the study notes that migraines cost 270 workdays per 1000 workers per year. Marijuana is an excellent medicine for migraines. Again: more medicine = less sickness = more work.

The effect is even more pronounced in states with "lax" marijuana laws. And, yes, Colorado is a "lax" state, as indicated by the fact that you, dear reader, are likely smoking weed at this very moment. At work. In your boss's office. With your boss.

Ullman continues that he wasn't sure the research would come out in this direction. "The opposite could have be true due to increased lethargy," he says. But his findings suggest that marijuana's curative powers outweigh its couchlocking powers. 

At this point, half of all states have medical marijuana. And the costs of absenteeism across the country is around $24 billion a year. Medical marijuana should be expected to reduce some of those costs, the study suggests. 

"This new study implies that states that have embraced medical marijuana legalization will enjoy an overall increase in production and a decrease in their cost of doing business," writes marijuana.com.

How much money that saves the country isn't yet known.

But this implies that those old stereotypes about laziness were wrong. Ents work. Ents bust their asses. And add this to evidence that legal weed reduces marijuana trafficking, benefits businesses, cuts down on opioid use, and puts kids through college — we're starting to think that the truly lazy motherlovers are you non-smokers. 

So stop spreading bad rumors. And pick up a joint, you lazy bastards. We don't want to see you miss work again.