Return to Work: Impacts of COVID-19 on cannabis consumption in working-age Americans

Return to Work: Impacts of COVID-19 on cannabis consumption in working-age Americans

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 20.6 million U.S. jobs were lost, putting the unemployment rate on par with the Great Depression. For those able to retain their positions, working remotely, oftentimes from home, became the new normal. Now, with vaccine roll-out in full swing, many Americans are preparing to leave their homes and return to in-person work after establishing new behaviors—including some unhealthy coping mechanisms due to increased stress levels over the last year. In June of 2020, the CDC reported a 40% increase in adults reporting struggling with mental health or substance use. Younger adults, underrepresented groups, essential workers and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use and elevated suicidal ideation. Among these substances and perhaps the most commonly used is cannabis. This begs the question, how will those who depended more heavily on cannabis while experiencing joblessness or working remotely transition effectively back to the in-person workforce?

In order to thoughtfully answer that question, it is important to acknowledge how cannabis impacts those who consume it regularly. “Concerns about workers’ cannabis use range from acute physical and decision-making impairments to long-term cognitive deficits.” One large and often misunderstood influence of cannabis exposure is its impact on sleep. However, there is very little research being done on the direct impact of cannabinoids, such as THC (psychoactive ingredient in cannabis), on sleep. “The growing workplace concerns demand targeted investigation to educate both employers and employees of dose-response effects of cannabis and daytime sleepiness, and to better inform workplace safety and health guidelines.” The need for evidence-based guidelines for workplace safety and public health, in regard to cannabis use, has critically increased over the last year and scientists at OHSU need your help.

Researchers at the Institute aim to investigate the effect of THC on sleep in humans and need healthy participants between the age of 21 and 34 years, who regularly use cannabis, to contribute to this important research. If you or someone you know would like to learn more or have their eligibility determined, click here to access our pre-screening survey or contact us at

Access the pre-screen survey:

Learn more about Dr. Nicole Bowles and her research at OHSU. 

Blog article summited by: Jacqueline Gagnon 

cannabinoids, such as THC (psychoactive ingredient in cannabis),