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  1. Medical cannabis patients between 25-55 saw lower unemployment rate
  2. Patients on temporary disability fell slightly
  3. Number of patients on permanent disability was little changed after cannabis use

Employment rates are on the rise for some medical cannabis patients, particularly those being treated for epilepsy, though the percentage of patients on permanent disability was little changed, a study of more than 4,000 medical cannabis patients showed from data supplied by Aleafia Health’s Canabo Medical Clinics across four provinces.

The study, which is believed to be the first at this scale to connect employment rates with medical cannabis use, was published in peer-reviewed Journal of Drug Issues this month.

“I find that employment increases marginally after prescription of medical cannabis, which may be especially notable as the labour supply of patients with chronic illnesses may, in general, trend downward over time,” wrote study author Andrew Davis, assistant professor at Acadia University’s Economics department.

“Patients using anti-epileptic medications are relatively more likely to see positive changes in their labour force status, whereas patients using nerve modulator pharmaceuticals do relatively worse compared with the patient population.”

Of those between the ages of 25 and 55, which accounted for 2,894 of the patients studied, 5.8 per cent were unemployed after using medical marijuana versus 7.6 per cent before using it. Of these, 8.6 per cent were employed part-time after using medical cannabis versus 8.1 per cent before. Those who were employed full-time rose slightly to 35. 2 per cent from 34.9 per cent prior to using medical marijuana, the study showed.

“Although there is not a direct … estimate on the magnitude of the effect cannabis has on employment, it is notable that there is no observed decline as might be expected in a population of aging individuals with chronic diseases,” Prof. Davis wrote.

For all ages in the study of more than 4,000 patients, those who were on temporary disability fell slightly to 7.8 per cent from 8.1 per cent prior to medical marijuana use, but those on permanent disability were little changed at 22.8 per cent from 22.7 per cent previously, the report showed.

Dr. Davis analyzed the labor supply of more than 4,000 Canadian medical cannabis patients who visited a Canabo clinic, primarily in Ontario, with the first visits prior to being prescribed marijuana from 2014-2016, and second observations after using the product between 2016-2017. Average patient age was 48, with roughly equal gender representation.

Aleafia did not pay the researcher for the study but said it funded the study by providing data from its clinics.

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