Marijuana Use Does Not Negatively Effect Job Performance, Finds Study

“As more local, state, and national governments change laws regarding the legality of cannabis use, it is essential for organizations to understand how the workplace may be influenced by these changes”, begins the abstract of a new study published in the journal Group and Organization Management. “The current study begins to answer this question by examining the relationship between three temporal-based cannabis measures and five forms of workplace performance.”

Using data from 281 employees and their direct supervisors, “our results indicate that cannabis use before and during work negatively relate to task performance, organization-aimed citizenship behaviors, and two forms of counterproductive work behaviors.”

At the same time, “after-work cannabis use was not related (positively or negatively) to any form of performance as rated by the user’s direct supervisor. We discuss methodological, theoretical, and practical implications for researchers, organizations, and governmental agencies concerned with cannabis use.”

For the study, researchers from San Diego State University in California and Auburn University in Alabama compiled data from 281 employees and their direct supervisors on the topic of marijuana use and job performance.

The study found that “[C]ontrary to commonly held assumptions, not all forms of cannabis use harmed performance. In fact, after-work cannabis use did not relate to any of the workplace performance dimensions. This finding casts doubt on some stereotypes of cannabis users and suggests a need for further methodological and theoretical development in the field of substance use.”

Commenting on the study’s findings, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Suspicionless marijuana testing never has been an evidence-based policy. Rather, these discriminatory practices are a holdover from the zeitgeist of the 1980s ‘war on drugs.’ But times have changed; attitudes have changed, and in many places, the marijuana laws have changed. It is time for workplace policies to adapt to this new reality.”

The study’s findings are similar to those of a recent literature review published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse which concluded, “[T]he current body of evidence does not provide sufficient evidence to support the position that cannabis users are at increased risk of occupational injury.” A prior literature review, published in 2017 by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, also concluded, “There is no or insufficient evidence to support … a statistical association between cannabis use and … occupational accidents or injuries.”

The study’s full abstract is below:

As more local, state, and national governments change laws regarding the legality of cannabis use, it is essential for organizations to understand how the workplace may be influenced by these changes. The current study begins to answer this question by examining the relationship between three temporal-based cannabis measures and five forms of workplace performance. Using data from 281 employees and their direct supervisors, our results indicate that cannabis use before and during work negatively relate to task performance, organization-aimed citizenship behaviors, and two forms of counterproductive work behaviors. At the same time, after-work cannabis use was not related (positively or negatively) to any form of performance as rated by the user’s direct supervisor. We discuss methodological, theoretical, and practical implications for researchers, organizations, and governmental agencies concerned with cannabis use.

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