Study results show that more veterans are using medical marijuana than ever before
More U.S. military veterans are using weeds than ever before, according to a new research study published in Addictive Behaviors magazine.
A team of researchers from California and Connecticut conducted this study to find out if cannabis use by veterans has increased over the past decade. The researchers collected data from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study 2019-2020, a national survey that asks veterans to self-report their physical and mental health and recent substance use.
In this survey, 4,069 veterans between the ages of 22 and 99 were asked whether they had used cannabis in the past six months. Veterans were also asked if they had been enrolled in a legal medical marijuana program in their home state and assessed to determine if their weed use qualifies as a “cannabis use disorder” (CUD).
An analysis of the survey data found that 11.9 percent of veterans had used cannabis in the previous six months. In 2014, the last time researchers estimated cannabis use by veterans, that rate was just 9 percent. In the present survey, 2.7 percent of all respondents tested positive for CUD, and 1.5 percent of veterans said they had a medical marijuana card.
The study also found that younger veterans and veterans with psychiatric illnesses were more likely to use cannabis, have a medical marijuana card, or are CUD positive. Younger age, alcohol use disorder, and childhood adversity were also linked to increased rates of cannabis use, or CUD, and veterans suffering from depression were also more likely to qualify for a CUD diagnosis.
The discrepancy between higher veterans cannabis use rates and lower enrollment rates for state medical marijuana programs is largely due to state restrictions on cannabis use. Although veterans diagnosed with PTSD or chronic pain can legally use medical pots in many states, federal law makes it very difficult for them to do so. Any veteran caught weed could lose federal benefits, including home loans and medical assistance.
These restrictions force many veterans to source their drugs from the black market. A recent survey found that 52 percent of veterans living in Texas used weed from illegal sources to treat their PTSD symptoms. Another poll found that 92 percent of veteran households support medical cannabis research, and 82 percent said they would like access to a federally approved medicinal pot.
Despite this strong support, governments have maintained their opposition to cannabis. Progressive lawmakers have struggled for years to give veterans the right to use medical pots, but the leaders of GOP Congress shot down every single one of their proposals.
Even so, seasoned lawmakers are continuing their struggle and have already tabled two separate bills this year designed to help American service members gain access to natural medicine that can help them heal.