The number of U.S. military veterans using cannabis jumped from 9% in 2014 to 12% last year, according to a study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors. The data for the study came from the 2019-2020 National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study, which included 4,069 respondents.
The researchers—from the University of California, San Diego and Yale University’s National Center for PTSD—found that of the veterans who reported using cannabis within the last six months, just 1.5% were enrolled in a state-approved medical cannabis program, and 2.7% screened positive for cannabis use disorder. Combat veterans, Black veterans, and those with physical disabilities were most likely to be enrolled in a medical cannabis program.
The federal agency that runs the healthcare system for veterans, Veteran Affairs (VA), does not recommend cannabis to patients at agency-run hospitals as it remains outlawed federally. In April, a bipartisan group of members of Congress introduced the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act which would temporarily legalize medical cannabis possession for U.S. combat veterans at the federal level, if recommended by a doctor and allow VA physicians to recommend cannabis in states where it is legalized for medical use.
That bill was referred to the House committees on Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, and Veterans’ Affairs in April but has not yet received a hearing.
Last year, the Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved a different bill that would allow VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis in states where it is legal; however, that bill was not voted on in either chamber of Congress.
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