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1 in 10 Veterans Turn to Cannabis for Alternative Treatment



The legal and public perception changes towards marijuana in the United States have been remarkable. Despite these advancements, the absence of federal legalization and control is undeniable, which has particularly impacted some communities like veterans.


Canada has made strides in ensuring that veterans have access to affordable medical cannabis. The Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) recently introduced a reimbursement policy that allows qualified veterans to receive up to three grams of medical cannabis per day. This policy specifically sets a fixed rate of up to $8.50 per gram, with the option to receive dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, or cannabis oil. This is a significant step towards providing veterans with alternative treatment options for their medical conditions.


Last year in Sacramento local dispensaries partnered to give free cannabis to veterans for medicinal purposes. The Weed for Warriors Project is also fighting for veterans' rights to use medicinal cannabis.


It's no secret that U.S. veterans are turning to cannabis for relief from conditions like PTSD and chronic pain. While VA providers can discuss cannabis use with their patients, the federal Schedule I status of the drug prevents clinicians from recommending or covering medical cannabis. This means that veterans often have to seek alternative methods for accessing this plant medicine. Despite the legal obstacles, research continues to mount in support of the potential benefits of cannabis for veterans, making it a topic of interest for clinicians and researchers alike.

According to a recent survey conducted by researchers from the University of North Texas and the University of Illinois, a startling number of U.S. military veterans are using cannabis. The survey, which gathered data from over 16,000 veterans across the country, found that one in ten reported consuming cannabis in the past year. This new insight sheds light on a growing trend among this population and highlights the need for further research into the impacts of cannabis use on veterans' health and well-being.


According to a new study, there has been a noticeable rise in cannabis use among veterans in the past few years. Out of the 16,350 veterans surveyed who were 18 years old or older, almost 10% reported using cannabis in the past year. Researchers discovered a 56% increase in overall cannabis use from 2013 to 2019, after testing for weighted linear and quadratic trends. The findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate that cannabis use is becoming more common among veterans who are seeking alternative treatment.


In a recent study conducted on cannabis use among veterans, researchers found that older veterans aged 35 and above were more likely to use medical cannabis in the past year compared to their younger counterparts. Interestingly, only a small percentage of the study participants reported receiving authorization from a healthcare provider to use cannabis, a potential result of federal law prohibiting VA-affiliated providers from issuing recommendations. Even in states where medical cannabis is legal, veterans still face obstacles to accessing this alternative form of treatment.

In order to gain a clearer understanding of veterans’ cannabis usage, further research is required, according to the researchers. They highlight the need to explore how veterans acquire marijuana, and the impact this may have on their coordinated care and overall well-being. Additionally, they suggest investigating whether cannabis can help to curb the use of other drugs and related harm among veterans. This study sheds light on the importance of more comprehensive research to fully comprehend the complex issue of cannabis and veterans’ health.


In a progressive move, the VA is delving into the realm of psychedelic therapy. While the debate over medicinal cannabis rages on, VA clinicians are already delving into studies on the potential of psychedelics for therapy. These clinicians hope to explore the possibilities of psychedelic-assisted therapy for those who need it most. It's a bold step forward in ensuring the mental health of veterans is a top priority.


The recent study on cannabis use among veterans clearly shows that this population is turning to plant medicine for relief from medical conditions, despite legal obstacles. While more research is needed to understand how veterans are accessing and using marijuana, it’s encouraging to see progress being made in terms of VA clinicians exploring psychedelic-assisted therapy as an alternative form of treatment. It’s important that we recognize the mental health needs of our military veterans and continue pushing forward with progressive solutions like these so they can access safe and effective treatments.



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