Medical cannabis is helping millions of patients find a higher quality of life. It seems that everyone from children, teenagers, adults, senior citizens, and even veterans are finding relief from a wide range of ailments through medical cannabis. When it comes to veterans and medical cannabis, there is a large grey area due to federal illegalities; however, what isn’t in that grey area is cannabis’ efficacy in helping these individuals find relief from things such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and much more.

According to results from the 2019-2020 National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study, in 2020, over 20% of veterans aged 18-44 reported utilizing medical cannabis. This is likely because it is working to help with many of the conditions and ailments that veterans face during and after service. Let’s take a closer look at what the research says regarding these aspects.

Is Medical Cannabis an Effective Treatment for PTSD?

The first ever FDA-regulated study pertaining to the potential benefits of cannabis for veterans with PTSD showed promising results when released in 2021. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study was published in a peer-reviewed journal and found that participants utilizing smoked cannabis blends with 9% THC content showed specified levels of improvement.

According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars website, “In that study, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) compared participants diagnosed with PTSD who used prescribed cannabis with other PTSD sufferers who do not use cannabis to treat symptoms. Over the course of a year, the study found that cannabis users reported a greater decrease in the severity of their PTSD symptoms. They also were more than 2.5 times as likely to no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD as those who did not use cannabis.”

Research has shown that cannabinoids may help treat PTSD through 2 different avenues. One is by reducing the activity within the amygdala, the part of the brain that is responsible for fear responses to imposed threats. The other is the belief that cannabinoids may eliminate traumatic memories. A study looking at the effect of THC on reducing fear and anxiety showed that exposure to this cannabinoid lowers threat-related amygdala reactivity. Simply put, this suggests that those with PTSD that consume THC may experience less fear when encountering PTSD triggers.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that roughly 11-20% of Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans suffer from PTSD. However, the use of cannabis by veterans receiving VA benefits is prohibited by the Department of Defense and VA due to the federal illegality of cannabis.

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety is also a very common ailment among veterans and goes hand in hand with PTSD in most cases. Fortunately, medical cannabis has also been shown to offer substantial benefits in reducing anxiety through various research studies. One such study published in 2022 in the Psychiatry Research medical journal showed that not only could cannabis offer relief from anxiety in the moment, but that cannabis consumption over time could actually offer “statistically significant improvements between baseline and follow-up scores” for both anxiety and depression over time.

Can Medical Cannabis Help Relieve Chronic Pain?

According to the CDC, based on statistics from the 2019 National Health Interview Survey, in 2019, veterans over the age of 20 were “more likely to have chronic pain than were nonveterans” at a rate of 31.5% vs. 20.1%. In a review of research related to cannabis’ efficiency in relieving chronic pain, researchers found that research suggests that cannabis may be as effective as opioids and other commonly used treatments in reducing chronic pain severity and symptoms.

Studies regarding cannabis for chronic pain treatment have shown that synthetic oral products that offer a high CBD:THC ratio may offer benefits in the short term for chronic pain. Additionally, research has shown that sublingual cannabis products that offer an equal ratio of CBD to THC may also decrease chronic pain.

Studies on Medical Cannabis for Veterans to Continue

In recent news, veterans will have an opportunity to participate in a study to help further our knowledge surrounding how these individuals are utilizing medical cannabis to treat different conditions. A Massachusetts-based nonprofit known as the Cannabis Center of Excellence or simply the CCE has launched a new research study to identify how U.S. Veterans are using medical cannabis. This study is being conducted through the collaborative efforts of the CCE, licensed cultivators Gibby’s Garden, Patriots Helping Vets, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Institutional Review Board.

The group is currently seeking 450 qualifying participants in Massachusetts for the study. The study will consist of participants completing a baseline survey. The Veterans will then have the opportunity to purchase a cannabis product bundle that includes products from Gibby’s Garden at a highly discounted rate. This bundle includes two strains of pre-rolls, a 15ml bottle of cannabis tincture, and 2 ounces of cannabis flower for consumption. As part of the study, veterans will then, after use, be asked to report on several different aspects via a paper-based form or the mobile medical cannabis app Tetragram.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, based on the research above, there are many ways in which medical cannabis may be beneficial for veterans, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of anecdotal stories from veterans regarding cannabis’ efficacy in treating not only the conditions listed above but many others. Thankfully, in many states where medical cannabis has been legalized, conditions such as PTSD and debilitating anxiety are part of the qualifying conditions lists for medical cannabis.

If you are a PTSD patient, or if you suffer from one of many other conditions for which medical cannabis offers benefits for, it is time to schedule your medical marijuana doctor recommendation appointment today with a licensed physician! Once you receive your medical cannabis recommendation, you are on your way to becoming a qualified medical cannabis patient and being legally allowed to utilize this plant for all it has to offer. Don’t wait; apply today to become a medical marijuana patient.

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