A study published last month by researchers at the University of North Texas Health Science Center and College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found one in 10 military veterans reported using cannabis over the past year.
The study was published in the Substance Use & Misuse journal using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2013-2019) comprised of 16,350 veterans 18-years-or-older. The researchers found that veterans aged 65-and-older were more likely to define their cannabis use as medical compared to younger veterans who most often described their cannabis use as recreational.
“Our findings, taken in context with current federal policy, point toward a need for enhanced care coordination among veterans who may benefit from marijuana, but are unable to access it through the [Veterans Affairs],” the researchers concluded. “Additional research is needed to better understand veterans’ use of a marijuana in the context of federal VA restrictions, including the examination of how veterans obtain marijuana, what affect this has on their care coordination and health outcomes, and whether or not marijuana can play a role in reducing other drug use and drug-related harms among veterans.”
According to a survey published last year by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), 75% of military veterans “would be interested in using cannabis or cannabinoid products as a treatment option if it were available.” That survey found 83% of respondents supported legalizing medical cannabis access, with 68% agreeing that the VA “should allow for research into cannabis as a treatment option.” Twenty percent of survey respondents indicated they had used cannabis for medical purposes.
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