While some of you may associate the month of November with Thanksgiving, others honor the veterans who fought to keep our country safe. This Veteran’s Day (November 11, 2021), we’re dedicating our blog to the many ways cannabis can help former soldiers with PTSD, depression, and other medical conditions associated with war trauma. To learn more about the pros of cannabis for veterans, keep on reading.
The amount of interest in cannabis for veterans is growing. “In 2014, 9% of Veterans in the U.S. reported using cannabis in the past year (3). In 2019-2020, the prevalence of past-6-month cannabis use among Veterans was 11.9%, and was over 20% among Veterans aged 18-44.” That’s according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. But despite the increasing interest, active military members are forbidden from consuming cannabis as per their contract. Only when a member is discharged can they partake in the plant to help with their health.
Military Health Risks
There are a number of health risks associated with the military, particularly mental health issues. Veterans may be more likely to experience these conditions when discharged:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Mood Disorders
- Substance Abuse Disorders
Furthermore, “the Biden administration says it continues to oppose a bill that would require it to conduct clinical trials into the therapeutic potential of marijuana for military veterans,” according to the Marijuana Movement. That’s despite the fact that multiple veterans service organizations such as the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans are voicing support for the proposal. The laws and regulations surrounding cannabis for Veterans must change.
Cannabis and Opioids for Recovery
Despite the rise in cannabis use, opioids remain the most common form of medical recovery in the Veteran community. Opioids are commonly prescribed by doctors to help veterans cope with PTSD and chronic pain if they were injured in battle. Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) tweeted that “Opioids shouldn’t be the only pain treatment option for veterans struggling with PTSD and chronic pain. We need to pass the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act to explore how cannabis can provide a safe, effective alternative.”
As you may already know, the United States is currently fighting an opioid epidemic. HHS.gov cites that “opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 deaths in 2016, more than any previous year on record. An estimated 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid. Devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic include increases in opioid misuse and related overdoses, as well as the rising incidence of newborns experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to opioid use and misuse during pregnancy.”
With so many health risks on the table, there has to be a better, safer solution to help Veterans. And there is—but the VA has been slow to make any adjustments to their cannabis policies.
Cannabis for Veterans in 2021
Did you know that millions of American veterans are already partaking in cannabis? The American Legion recently found that nearly one in four veterans use cannabis specifically “to treat a mental or physical condition.” Of course, cannabis for veterans would be more prevalent if the VA did not oppose further research. It’s infuriating to think about, especially when “75 percent of [veterans] would be interested in using cannabis or cannabinoid products as a treatment option if it were available.”