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Marijuana and Veterans Issues

Veterans consume cannabis at rates far higher than the general population, and many report using it for medical purposes

Veterans often report using cannabis to treat symptoms of chronic pain and mood disorders, like post-traumatic stress. Clinical data supports the use of cannabis treatment for these indications.

In states where medical cannabis is legal, opioid-related mortality has fallen significantly

Studies of pain patients eligible for medical marijuana access find that most subjects significantly reduce or eliminate their use of opioids following cannabis therapy

  • "Between August 1 - December 31, 2016 a total of 2290 patients were enrolled in the program under the qualifying condition of intractable pain; 45 of these patients were previously enrolled in the program under an additional qualifying condition. This report focuses on the 2245 patients who were certified for intractable pain and enrolled in the program for the first time during this interval. ... A large proportion (58%) of patients on other pain medications when they started taking medical cannabis were able to reduce their use of these meds according to health care practitioner survey results. Opioid medications were reduced for 38% of patients (nearly 60% of these reduced at least one opioid by ≥50%), benzodiazepines were reduced for 3%, and other pain medications were reduced for 22%. If only the 353 patients (60.2%, based on medication list in first Patient Self-Evaluation) known to be taking opioid medications at baseline are included, 62.6% (221/353) were able to reduce or eliminate opioid usage after six months."
  • "During the study period, 2736 patients above 65 years of age began cannabis treatment and answered the initial questionnaire. The mean age was 74.5 ± 7.5 years. The most common indications for cannabis treatment were pain (66.6%) and cancer (60.8%). After six months of treatment, 93.7% of the respondents reported improvement in their condition and the reported pain level was reduced from a median of 8 on a scale of 0-10 to a median of 4. ... After six months, 18.1% stopped using opioid analgesics or reduced their dose. ... Cannabis use may decrease the use of other prescription medicines, including opioids."