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Legal weed in NJ: Study shows it cuts down on workers' comp claims in adults

The Record, Bergen County logo The Record, Bergen County 2/25/2021 Philip DeVencentis, NorthJersey.com
Marijuana buds and marijuana joints. © Photo courtesy of Getty Images Marijuana buds and marijuana joints.

WAYNE — Middle-aged adults claim up to 20% less in workers' compensation benefits in states where recreational marijuana is legal, according to a new study.

The research also found that the drug caused an associated decline in the rate of non-fatal work injuries.

Rahi Abouk, who teaches economics and finance at William Paterson University, co-authored the paper with professors from the University of Cincinnati at Blue Ash and Temple University, as well as a representative of the RAND Corporation, a California-based think tank.

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"It suggests people who use cannabis have a better work capacity and that they'll make fewer mistakes," Abouk said this week about the team's findings.

New Jersey became the 13th state to legalize marijuana for recreation on Monday when Gov. Phil Murphy signed a series of bills to allow anyone at least 21 years old to have or use the drug. Voters had supported a ballot question in favor of decriminalizing the drug.

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Workers with access to marijuana will file fewer claims for benefits because they use the drug for pain management, the study shows.

The overall labor market also improves when cannabis is readily available, Abouk said. Studies have already shown ties between the unemployment rate and abuse of opioids and traditional pain relievers, he said.

The new research focused on workers between 42 and 60 years old because they are more likely to have medical conditions for which marijuana can be substituted as pain therapy, Abouk said. Nine years of data was drawn for the study, he said.

The 68-page paper was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research this month.

Abouk is the director of the university's Cannabis Research Institute, made up of 11 professors who study the use of the drug for medicine and recreation.

Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: devencentis@northjersey.com

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Legal weed in NJ: Study shows it cuts down on workers' comp claims in adults

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