510 Veterans self-reported via a detailed survey in 2019 about their use of cannabis based medicines to manage several conditions and symptoms. It was published in June 2023 in the journal Clinical Therapeutics.
Since the Veterans Administration (VA) does not usually approve of cannabis treatments, the data collected was anonymous. VA providers are prohibited from recommending, prescribing, referring veterans to, or paying for, medicinal cannabis.
The primary health conditions that were treated with cannabinoid medicine:
- chronic pain (38%) - however 74% said they experienced chronic pain, but it was not their primary health condition.
- PTSD (26%)
- anxiety (9%)
- depression (5%)
82% of the participants were men, which is consistent with the percentage of men in all military services in the U.S. 52% had combat exposure. 67% reported using cannabinoids daily. The vast majority (88%) said they were also trying to reduce their use of other OTC and prescription medications. Only 55% said their doctor knows about their cannabinoid use.
The percentage of respondents reporting specific beneficial outcomes as a result of their cannabinoid use:
- Increase quality of life: 91%
- Decrease psychological symptoms: 80%
- Decrease physical symptoms: 73%
- Decrease alcohol use: 46%
- Decrease medication use: 45%
- Decrease opioid use: 21%
- Decrease tobacco use: 24%
The study did not collect information about the actual product types or dosages taken by participants.
In the authors' words:
91% of respondents reported that medical cannabis helped them to experience a greater quality of life
21% reported using fewer opioids as a result of their medical cannabis use
The present findings indicate that medicinal cannabis can potentially play a harm-reduction role, helping veterans to use fewer pharmaceutical medications and other substances.
The full text article is here at ClinicalTherapeutics.com.
Marion McNabb, Katherine A. Durante, Sarah Trocchio, David J. Ritter, Randal MacCaffrie, Ann Brum, Stephen Mandile, Steven White,
Self-reported Medicinal Cannabis Use as an Alternative to Prescription and Over-the-counter Medication Use Among US Military Veterans,
Clinical Therapeutics, Volume 45, Issue 6, 2023, Pages 562-577,