Legalising medicinal marijuana leads to increase in social security disability claims (US)

By September 27, 2017 Recent News

Surprising medical marijuana side effect: More people claiming disability
MarketWatch 25 September 2017
Family First Comment: “Expanding marijuana access has negative spillover effects to costly social programs that disincentive work.”
It’s called dope for a reason – especially when it’s smoked and not proven to have medical benefit.

Medical marijuana laws are becoming more popular across the country, but legalizing the drug for medicinal purposes can have a major unintended consequence.

State medical marijuana laws lead to an increase in the probability that people will make Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims, according to a new working paper from researchers at Temple University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cincinnati. The tendency to make an SSDI claim rose 9.9% following the passage of a medical marijuana law, while actual SSDI benefits rose by 2.6%. The report, which was distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research, used data from the Current Population Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to produce its findings.

The researchers also studied the effect state laws on medical marijuana had on workers’ compensation (WC) claims. While their analysis did not produce any statistically significant evidence on these claims, the researchers said the data suggested generally that the laws do cause an increase. “Expanding marijuana access has negative spillover effects to costly social programs that disincentive work,” the researchers wrote.

Consequently, medical marijuana laws could have a major impact on these already-costly social insurance programs were they to become even more prevalent. So far, 30 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana to treat a host of illnesses ranging from cancer and glaucoma to chronic pain disorders and epilepsy. As of 2016, the SSDI and workers’ compensation programs cost the government and employers roughly $208 billion annually.

And while older adults are more likely to suffer from many of the conditions medical marijuana is prescribed for, they aren’t more likely to file a disability claim. The researchers reported no statistically significant evidence that medical marijuana laws resulted in a change in benefits claims among older adults between the ages of 41 and 62. That wasn’t true of their younger peers between the ages of 23 and 40. For them, the passage of medical marijuana laws led to a 24% increase in the probability of making SSDI claims and a 15% increase in the likelihood of workers’ compensation claims.
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