As cannabis laws and regulated medical programs continue to show reform, this brings about change for companies and employees alike.

Many companies just want to preserve their financial standing while also continuing to create a safe environment for their employees and patrons. If we understand how cannabis works and relate it to the alternatives to care we can better create Human resources policies and employee guidelines to best suit the type of company we have built. In this article we will discuss: productivity, performance, safety, creativity, and the overall health of employees.

One of the biggest factors and negative connotations associated with cannabis is the theory that it will create lazy employees that are not using their time wisely to complete tasks. However, the research shows increased productivity the following day by using cannabis after work hours. In any industry, the employees that have access to use cannabis for their chronic pain, anxiety, PTSD, etc … they benefit by having the ability to reduce their stress and inflammation after work hours, helping them to achieve more restful sleep and be at their best for the next day. Take this in comparison to those who choose to drink alcohol after work. There are more “call offs” associated with alcoholism and it has been proven to cloud the mind the next day, reducing productivity the day after drinking. Since cannabis reform in medical or legal states, the amount of call off days have actually decreased by over 8% amongst workers aged 15-65.

If we allow employees to use opiates while at work because it is prescribed, why not at least allow these employees the medical option to use cannabis appropriately for their condition. There are numerous studies showing how opiate use can increase the risk of injury. The neurological reports from the brain or from the body to the brain for that matter are dampened by opiate usage and even lead to an increased sensation of pain once the opiate medications wear off. Not to mention the increasingly prevalent issue of addiction and how opiate use can quickly lead to drug seeking behavior after the scripts run out. Even the long-term consequences of chronic cannabis consumption appear to be better than those from long-term opioid, alcohol, or tobacco use. In particular, no deaths have been documented as a result of the negative health consequences of cannabis. Meanwhile, opioid overdoses have killed 47,000 people in 2017 alone, and on average, 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually.

Further research shows CBD usage can help to reduce opiate cravings for up to 2 weeks after administration. If an employee is dealing with addiction and trying to get their life in order, it is more constructive to allow the usage of CBD daily and help them to continue to build coping mechanisms and emotional fulfillment within their lives and careers. Not allowing safe options is detrimental and forces employees down a different path. We know of many direct benefits from Cannabis but we must also take into consideration the indirect benefits such as: individuals substituting away from other substances toward cannabis. It was discovered that with the legalization of medical cannabis, arrests for cocaine and heroin possession combined decreased by up to 15%, and admissions for heroin-related treatment decreased by 20%. Other studies have found that alcohol consumption decreases, alcohol-related traffic fatalities decrease by 13%–15%, and the number of cigarettes consumed by smokers also decreases, leading to cost savings of $4.6–$6.9 billion per year in tobacco-related health care.

When considering safety at the workplace, we have to consider whether the employee is using cannabis or other prescribed medications as prescribed or if there is a component of recreational usage while on the job. If someone uses cannabis appropriately for the pain to be able to think clearly and not focus on the pain that is acceptable, if they are overmedicating on purpose, that raises issues no matter which medication they and their doctors choose.

Opiates can increase the risk of fracture and increase potential for injuries on the job vs cannabis does not increase the physiological chance of fractures… this does not mean an employee should be able to use cannabis while at work if they work in an industry where they have potential dangers to self and others in the workplace… but these employees should have the right to use cannabis medically after work hours to help reduce inflammation and promote recovery from a hard days work. This is especially true for manual labor jobs. Continuing with the aspect of safety work place fatalities have decreased for those aged 25-44 and suicide rates have gone down for young men aged 20-39 since legal reform for medical cannabis usage has become available.

Companies are within their rights to not want an employee to use cannabis during work hours if this would in any way be detrimental to safety procedures or production, however if patients are urged to use THC free cannabidiol tinctures during the day and full strength cannabis products after work this can reduce call offs/sick days, increase productivity and create a healthier workforce. Many of my patients show evidence that CBD usage daily and THC usage every 3 days can be effective in reducing chronic pain even without daily use of the psychoactive components within the plant.

The evidence about slowing processing time short term while under the influence of cannabis is accurate as well as employees that are under the influence not wanting to engage with other employees as much but depending on the type of job this may not be a bad thing. Some types of cannabis can increase creativity and help people see outside the box. If you run a company where creative ideas and focus are important for business, I urge you to consider allowing your employees to use medical cannabis in their off hours.

Let’s take writers, musicians, artists, designers, corporate marketing, and or coding jobs for example, we know certain strains of cannabis increase creativity and focus, this may actually help give your employees, when stressed out, the availability to change the way they are perceiving the task at hand and keep going to get the job done. If you allow your employees to use their medicine during the work day be aware that this may cause them to be more quiet and stick to themselves while completing their tasks… if you work in an environment that requires your employees to engage with other staff, customers, clients, etc … you may want to make sure you have it clearly laid out in the HR policy and employee handbook that cannabis, opiate and alcohol use are not permitted during the workday regardless of medical allowance.

We know cannabis reduces inflammation, considering most disease processes are considered inflammatory, allowing your employees to choose medical use of cannabis instead of the much more dangerous pharmaceutical options can help create a healthier workplace. Cannabis has also been shown to lower blood pressure for many hours after administration and in the long run. By lowering blood pressure over time, especially amongst the elderly this creates a healthier workforce and can even lower insurance premiums with employees that have a more well maintained blood pressure during insurance wellness exams. Furthermore, cannabinoids such as THC is now known to help with metabolic disorders and proven to help reduce diabetic complications including insulin resistance, obesity, and peripheral neuropathy; while also increasing the metabolism. Allowing appropriate medical use of cannabis for employees can create a healthier workforce.


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Author Bio

Dr. Jennifer Hawks is a Naturopathic physician. She was trained in Ohio (University of Cincinnati) and Illinois (National University of Health Sciences) before moving to Arizona to open her own practice. Dr. Hawks has helped thousands of patients learn about and utilize medical cannabis as well as many other natural healing methods. She began researching cannabis and other plants over 16 years ago and was published in Biological Invasions for her assistance with genetic research on the Pear tree in 2010. Dr. Hawks enjoys one on one time with her patients and wholeheartedly supports her patients in their health journey while focusing on optimal quality of life. With a background as a massage therapist and energy worker, she brings this expertise to her medical practice to provide a more well rounded care plan of treating mind, body and soul. Dr. Hawks serves as Chief Medical Director for Compassionate Certification Centers and Compassionate Care Medical Professionals with a focus on patient care and integrative medicine. CCC’s Midgard Medicinals performance line of CBD is formulated by Dr. Hawks to provide a well rounded broad spectrum product that assists in hormone balance, blood flow, energy reserves as well as all of the benefits from cannabinoids.

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