Economy

Why Your Boss Should Encourage You to Smoke Weed

Tell your boss: Marijuana is actually good for the workplace.

medical-marijuana-jars

States where marijuana is legal have fewer employees calling in sick, a new study published in the journal Health Economics found. Businesses included in the survey reported an 8 to 15 percent decline in sickness absenteeism following legalization.

"Utilizing the Current Population Survey, the study identifies that absences due to sickness decline following the legalization of medical marijuana," Darren Ullman, the lead author of the study, wrote. "The effect is stronger in states with 'lax' medical marijuana regulations, for full-time workers, and for middle-aged males, which is the group most likely to hold medical marijuana cards."

The study doesn't speculate about the reasons behind the correlation, but earlier research gives us a sense of why businesses might be seeing this result. For example, if workers are using cannabis recreationally — in lieu of alcohol — that could contribute to fewer sick days. Unlike alcohol abuse — which is associated with increased absenteeism — smoking cannabis doesn't cause hangovers or negatively affect health in ways that would prevent workers from making it into the office.

Here's another possible explanation: For many patients, the side effects of prescription drugs affect their ability to work. That's one reason that an increasing number of patients are using marijuana as a replacement for pharmaceuticals, according to a patient survey. Marijuana — including non-psychoactive varieties of the plant — effectively treats a wide range of conditions without affecting productivity.

hands-full-of-weed

Whatever combination of factors is contributing to the finding, the study makes a compelling argument for legalization that we haven't heard before. Stereotypes about marijuana users and productivity have led some to assume that cannabis use would be bad for business. Ullman's study calls that assumption into question.

Fewer sick days means major cost savings for companies in legal states: Sickness absenteeism takes a $227 billion toll on the U.S. economy annually due to "lost productivity," Forbes reported, citing estimates in a 2012 report from the nonprofit research organization the Integrated Benefits Institute. In that respect, marijuana really does seem to be good for business.

RELATED: Big Pharma's Concerned About These Marijuana Stats