An estimated one in ten US military veterans report having consumed cannabis within the past year, according to data published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.
A pair of researchers affiliated with the University of North Texas and the University of Illinois assessed cannabis use trends among a nationally representative cohort of over 16,000 veterans over the years 2013 to 2019.
Investigators reported that ten percent of those sampled acknowledged past-year cannabis use. Consumers were most likely to define their consumption as medical-only if they were age 65 or older.
Only a minority of the study’s respondents acknowledged having received an authorization to use cannabis from a healthcare provider. This is likely because federal law prohibits providers affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs from issuing recommendations, even in states where the medical use of cannabis is legal.
The study’s authors concluded: “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 VA. … 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 nationwide survey data compiled by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 75 percent of military veterans “would be interested in using cannabis or cannabinoid products as a treatment option if it were available.”