The best way to keep employees from slacking is to give them medical marijuana, according to a new study. At least that’s the simplified version of a recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s results.

States with legal medical marijuana programs experience a substantial decline in the number of days that workers call in sick, between 8 and 15 percent, according to Darin F. Ulman of the Department of Economics at UWM in a paper recently published in the Wiley Online Library.

The study claims that not only does MMJ cause a steep decrease in sick days for a state, but that the more permissive the state’s MMJ laws, the fewer sick days workers take. From the paper: “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.”

Just what does doctor-recommended marijuana have to do with sick days? Ulman isn’t exactly sure, but other research on the effectiveness of medical cannabis might shed some light on the topic. Another recent MMJ study found that alcohol consumption decreases in a state after medical marijuana becomes legalized. And since “heavy drinkers” have been found to take off more days from work, a rise in medical cannabis consumption might be leading to fewer drunks which in turn leads to fewer people calling in sick for a hangover.

MIgraines are also a big factor for sick days, with 270 lost works days being attributed to the tremor headaches for every 1000 people. Since marijuana has been found to be effective treatment of migraines, that could also be a factor in shrinking sick days.

Fewer sick days can translate into serious capital gains for businesses and employees alike. In the 1980s, taking off work cost US companies approximately $24 billion a year, and that figure has probably only inflated since then. Meanwhile, a 1 percent increase in worker absences has been found to cause a 56 cent decrease in wages, which means that decreasing worker absences by 8 to 15 percent could put a lot of money in workers’ pockets.


Photo via Flickr user Mark