“The recreational legalization of cannabis does not prevent work”

Chronic. Five years ago, even if he had not taken a clear position, Emmanuel Macron represented a hope for supporters of the legalization of cannabis. He’s there “Personality of the year 2022” for the magazine The Revue du vin de France, distinguished for “Its constant commitment to wine”, this other psychotropic drug. Government policy has therefore remained frozen in a prohibition of cannabis claimed by most of the right-wing presidential candidates.

Conversely, proof that, on societal questions, the left-right divide remains strong, the candidates of the left are, in their majority, in favor of an evolution. The two main candidates – Yannick Jadot (Europe Ecologie-Les Verts) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon (La France insoumise) – propose a form of legalization of recreational consumption. The latter is underway in Europe: Malta took the plunge in December 2021, Luxembourg very soon, Spain could further liberalize its legislation, and above all, legalization is included in the agreement of the German coalition.

Increase in occupational accidents

One of the arguments of opponents of recreational legalization concerns work and employment. An accumulation of academic work from different disciplines has established that cannabis use is associated with impaired concentration and motivation, which is thought to result in increased accidents at work and lower productivity. They would be less marked if consumption takes place after work.

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A recurring criticism of these results is that consumers may exhibit pre-existing characteristics which explain both consumption and lower individual performance. The rare panel studies, which correct for this bias in individual characteristics, also find effects, admittedly negative on concentration, but statistically insignificant. But all in all, this work says nothing about the impact of a legalization policy.

Less sick leave

The legalizations of recent years in some American states, on the other hand, offer comparative natural experiences. American economists have shown that the daily sickness / accident allowances received by users aged 40 to 62 were less frequent and their amount decreased by a fifth after legalization; even more surprisingly, non-traumatic accidents would be less frequent (“ Does Marijuana Legalization Affect Work Capacity ? Evidence from Workers’Compensation Benefits », Rahi Abouk, Keshar M. Ghimire, Johanna Catherine Maclean et David Powell, NBER Working Paper n ° 28471, February 2021). The authors explain these results by the therapeutic effect of cannabis and observe a substitution for painkillers, legal or not, which can alter the concentration of workers even more than cannabis.

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“The recreational legalization of cannabis does not prevent work”