Aspen Claims Service

Marijuana Legalization And Workers Comp Risk

 Wednesday, August 17, 2022

 Risk Management Magazine

On May 25, Rhode Island became the 19th U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana. Earlier this year, Mississippi passed legislation to allow for medical marijuana use, bringing the total number of states that have authorized ­medical cannabis to 37.

The continued push to legalize marijuana is no surprise. As of December 2021, states that have legalized marijuana have collected over $10 billion in related taxes since 2014, according to the publication Marijuana Moment. And while much of the economy suffered from COVID-19 in 2020, Forbes reported that cannabis sales hit a record $17.5 billion for the year, a 46% increase over 2019.

Other states are considering legalization as well. For example, lawmakers in Pennsylvania are pushing to legalize recreational marijuana to prevent tax revenue from leaking over its borders into other states that have already legalized.

Additionally, Ohio, Arkansas, Florida, Nebraska, Idaho, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and North Dakota are debating ballot initiatives to legalize medical and recreational marijuana. Congress is also considering several pieces of legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to regulate use within their borders.

As more jurisdictions consider legalizing recreational or medical marijuana use, employers, regulators and other stakeholders are once again contemplating the impact marijuana might have in the workplace and on workers compensation claims.
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