Medical Marijuana and its effect on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Worker Compensation (WC) was the subject of a working paper by Johanna Catherine Maclean, Keshar M. Ghimire, and Lauren Hersch Nicholas. THE EFFECT OF STATE MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAWS ON SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIMING
The researchers found that passage of Medical Marijuana Laws (MML) increases SSDI claiming. Post-MML the propensity to claim SSDI increases by 0.31 percentage points, which translates to 11.3% relative to SSDI claiming propensity in our sample (2.7%). The researchers report that point estimates for WC are imprecise.
However, in the paragraphs below, we want to highlight the danger to employers of state MML.
There is an increased propensity for accidents in the workplace and increased rates of use of marijuana. These are all warnings to employers that their drug testing, both pre-employment and random, should continue to include the test for marijuana.
Page 2 of their study the researchers comment that “Since medical marijuana would provide a new treatment option to patients whose health conditions prompted temporary or long-term separations from work, passage of state MMLs could lead to spillover effects for SSDI and WC programs.”
Page 8 states that “Leveraging data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), Wen et al. (2015) show that passage of an MML leads to a 14% increase in any prior month marijuana use and a 15% increase in near daily marijuana use. Choi (2014), re-affirms the relationship between MML passage and marijuana use established by Wen et al. (2015) in the NSDUH.”
On page 9 they remark that “Finally, heart attack-attributable deaths increase post-MML (Abouk & Adams, 2018)”
ON page 11 they report that “However, MML- attributable susbtance abuse problems may exacerbate other health conditions which may lead to an SSDI claim. Moreover, if workers are intoxicated by marijuana used medically or recreationally while working, or experience ‘hangover’ effects from off-work use, it is plausible that such use may increase the risk of a work-related injury or illness, leading to an SSDI or WC claim (Goldsmith et al., 2015). There may be spillover effects from intoxicated/hungover workers to other (sober) workers, exacerbating the effects of MML passage on claiming. Finally, if MMLs lead to reduced productivity, and in turn lower wages (Sabia & Nguyen, 2016), then some marginal workers may opt to claim benefits as the relative costs and benefits of working and claiming change.
Page 15 they warn “while the prevalence of WC claiming is higher in states that pass an MML.”