Recently it was revealed that young women are the emerging big users of cannabis. To that, add an older, largely male demographic — that of military veterans.
According to research in the journal Addictive Behaviors the number of U.S. vets who are using cannabis jumped by a third, from 9 percent in 2014 to 12 percent in 2020.
Researchers — from the University of California, San Diego and Yale University’s National Center for PTSD — carried out their analysis by looking at 4,069 veterans ages 22-99 years enrolled in the 2019-2020 National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study, a nationally representative survey.
The researchers reported on veterans' cannabis use over the last six months, whether or not they were in possession of a medical cannabis card, and if they had any symptoms of cannabis use disorder.
Despite the big 33 percent jump in cannabis use between 2014 and 2020, the researchers found that just 1.5% were enrolled in a state-approved medical cannabis program. In some ways this is unsurprising given the sparsity of these schemes and the difficulty patients can have in meeting the criteria to enrol. Moreover there is an irony here: Veteran Affairs doctors still cannot recommend cannabis to patients at agency-run hospitals as it remains federally outlawed.
Those who were in possession of a medical cannabis card were more likely to be combat veterans, black veterans, and those with physical disabilities.
Cannabis use in general was higher in younger veterans and those with psychiatric conditions.
Some veterans did run into problems with their cannabis use, especially those with depression. but the numbers were fairly low — 2.7 percent of vets using cannabis screened positive for cannabis use disorder.
“The estimated prevalence of cannabis use in veterans — nearly 12% — is higher than the most recently reported estimate (9% in 2014),” the researchers concluded. “Veteran cannabis use may be increasing and is particularly prevalent among veterans with psychiatric conditions”.