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Study: Medicinal Cannabis Use Benefiting Veterans

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A study has found medicinal cannabis improved quality of life and reduced other medication use by many of the US military service veterans surveyed.


It has been estimated 3.9 million of the USA’s 19 million veterans have a mental illness and/or substance use disorder. Nearly one in three experience depression, a quarter suffer anxiety and around the same have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


A study by researchers from the Cannabis Center of Excellence Inc, the University of Utah, University of Massachusetts and Joint Venture & Co analyzed self-reported medicinal cannabis use and health and well-being among US veterans. Their work had an emphasis on the use of medicinal cannabis as a potential alternative to unwanted prescription and or over-the-counter (OTC) medications.


A related survey carried out between March 3 and December 31 2019 with a total of 510 US military service participants found 91% of respondents reported medical cannabis assisted them in experiencing a greater quality of life. 80% reported fewer psychological symptoms and 73% had few fewer physical symptoms.


21% also said they were using fewer opioids, 30% were reducing use of OTC medicines, 25% had reduced antidepressants and 25%, anti-inflammatories. Overall, 45% reported using less medications. Additionally, 46% reported consuming less alcohol and 24% less tobacco as a result of medicinal cannabis use.


Primary health conditions reported by participants included 38% experiencing chronic pain, 26% had PTSD, 47.9% suffered anxiety and 26.5% depression. In terms of cannabis use, more than two-thirds of participants (67%) used it daily. 52% said they used it multiple times a day and another 15% noted once-daily use.


The authors of the study, which has been published in the journal Clinical Therapeutics, said the findings indicate medicinal cannabis can potentially play a harm-reduction role among veterans, helping them to use fewer pharmaceutical medications and other substances. However, they note the limitations of their study, among them the fact it was based on self-reported, observational data.


“Future researchers should triangulate or use multiple types of research methods to increase the validity of the findings, and examine specific therapeutic effects of cannabis on the health conditions and symptoms that veterans face,” they state.

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