Over 90% of Veterans Say Cannabis Improves Their Quality of Life, So Why Won’t the US Government Let Them Have It?

July 27, 2023 · Cannabis.net

A recent study revealed that more than 90% of U.S. military veterans using medical marijuana reported significantly improving their quality of life. These veterans have turned to cannabis as a substitute for over-the-counter and prescription medications.

Details Of The Study

In a comprehensive study conducted by researchers from the University of Utah, the University of Massachusetts, and various cannabis research institutes, a group of 510 veterans who use marijuana participated in a self-reported survey to gain deeper insights into their usage patterns and experiences.

The survey results unveiled intriguing trends regarding veterans’ marijuana consumption. The majority of responders (67%) acknowledged using cannabis frequently. Surprisingly, over 30% of the individuals said they had reduced their usage of other substances by using marijuana. 25% of them sought relief from depression with antidepressants, and 17% wished to reduce their intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.

Furthermore, 21% of veterans said they had reduced their need for opioid-based medications by smoking marijuana. These findings provide crucial insight into how veterans accept medicinal marijuana as a viable replacement for traditional pharmaceuticals, perhaps improving quality of life and lowering dependence on certain medications with potential side effects.

The study highlights the potential advantages of medicinal marijuana as an additional treatment for veterans’ healthcare requirements and calls for more research in this crucial area.

According to the study, about 91% of the respondents claimed that they experienced significant improvement in their quality of life due to cannabis use. That’s not all; the research also hinted at the high chance of specific groups being more inclined to stop using prescription medications.

This group includes Black veterans, female veterans, soldiers who served in active combat, and veterans experiencing severe pain. The study further revealed that women and daily cannabis users were more likely to actively stop prescription medication usage while depending solely on cannabis use to reduce their dependency on prescription drugs.

The participants reported that medicinal cannabis positively impacted their quality of life and helped them decrease their dependence on unwanted medications. These findings suggest that medicinal cannabis could serve as a harm-reduction tool, supporting veterans in reducing their reliance on pharmaceutical drugs and other substances.

However, it is essential to note that this published observational study in the Clinical Therapeutics journal has some drawbacks that need consideration. One of the primary drawbacks is that the data relied on self-reported information. In addition, it’s worth noting that some pro-cannabis media outlets and companies were involved in the recruitment process and funded the survey. This suggests that, intentionally or not, some biases could be introduced into the study.

Despite these drawbacks, the study’s findings correspond with previous research on cannabis’s potential as an alternative to prescription drugs. Other studies have also suggested that cannabis could be a viable option for some individuals seeking alternatives to traditional medications.

Cannabis Use and PTSD Among Veterans

The use of cannabis for medical purposes is a topic that is increasingly capturing attention and concern. Some veterans turn to cannabis to alleviate symptoms associated with PTSD, and certain states have explicitly approved medical cannabis for this condition.

There is significant interest in exploring cannabis as a potential treatment option for veterans, given their disproportionate experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and elevated suicide rates.

Based on a 2019 survey conducted by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), it was found that 20% of veterans have utilized marijuana for medicinal purposes, while 66% have used cannabis recreationally. This highlights the prevalence of cannabis use among veterans seeking relief from their conditions.

On the medical front, veterans are permitted to discuss their cannabis use with doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, these doctors are currently restricted from completing the necessary forms to issue medical cannabis recommendations in states where it is legal. In response to this issue, a bipartisan congressional bill and an amendment to VA spending legislation aim to change this during the current legislative session.

Medical Cannabis “Pilot Program”

The House Armed Services Committee recently held the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) markup. During the event, GOP-led provisions were adopted to establish a medical marijuana “pilot program” and mandate a study on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for active duty military members under the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

Furthermore, in February, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee approved a bill to direct the VA to conduct studies on the therapeutic potential of marijuana for military veterans with specific conditions. This marked the first time standalone cannabis legislation had advanced through a panel in the Senate. However, Senate Republicans obstructed the bill’s progress by blocking a procedural motion to move it to the Senate floor in April.

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) introduced a different bill in May, which seeks to promote research into the medical potential of marijuana for military veterans dealing with PTSD, chronic pain, and other conditions that the VA secretary deems appropriate.

Despite efforts in the past, a marijuana and veterans research bill did not pass before the end of the last Congress, as urged by a coalition of over 20 veterans service organizations (VSOs) in a letter to congressional leaders. As of April, bipartisan House and Senate lawmakers have refiled bills to legalize medical cannabis for military veterans, suggesting ongoing efforts to address the issue.


A recent study of 510 U.S. military veterans revealed that over 90% reported significantly improved quality of life using medical marijuana. Veterans are using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. The survey showed that 67% use cannabis frequently, with 30% reducing their usage of other substances. Notably, 21% reduced their need for opioids.

The study suggests that medicinal marijuana could be a viable harm-reduction tool, helping veterans reduce reliance on pharmaceuticals. However, the study’s self-reported nature and potential biases were limitations. Cannabis use among veterans for treating PTSD is also gaining attention, and legislative efforts are ongoing to explore the medical potential of marijuana for veterans. More research is needed, but the findings highlight promising avenues for improving veterans’ healthcare. (Full Story)

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