Adults who consume cannabis are no more likely to experience injuries at work than are those employees who abstain from the substance, according to the findings of a new literature review published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse.
A team of researchers affiliated with the University of British Columbia conducted a systematic review of scientific papers assessing any potential links between cannabis use and occupational accidents.
Investigators determined that most of the existing literature on the subject suffers from poor research designs. Specifically, few studies “employed research designs that ensured that cannabis use preceded the occupational injury outcome.” Others failed to adequately assess or control for confounding variables, such as the concurrent use of alcohol or other psychoactive substances.
Due to these limitations, authors concluded, “[T]he current body of evidence does not provide sufficient evidence to support the position that cannabis users are at increased risk of occupational injury.”
Their finding is consistent with that of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine which conducted its own literature review in 2017 and concluded, “There is no or insufficient evidence to support … a statistical association between cannabis use and … occupational accidents or injuries.”
The study’s publication comes at a time when many local and state officials are re-examining workplace marijuana testing policies. Commenting on this trend, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Suspicionless marijuana testing never has been an evidence-based policy. Rather, these discriminatory practices are a holdover from the zeitgeist of the 1980s ‘war on drugs.’ But times have changed; attitudes have changed, and in many places, the marijuana laws have changed. It is time for workplace policies to adapt to this new reality.”
In recent weeks, local lawmakers in several municipalities –- including Rochester, New York and Richmond, Virginia -– have moved to eliminate marijuana screens for certain prospective employees. These moves follow the enactment of similar policy changes in larger cities, such as New York City and Washington, DC.
Lawmakers in Maine and Nevada have enacted similar, statewide legislation barring certain employers from refusing to hire a worker because he or she tested positive for cannabis on a pre-employment drug screen.
The abstract of the study, “Systemic review of cannabis use and risk of occupational injury,” appears online here. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace.”