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Veterans and Cannabis: What you should know

With about 19 million currently living in the US today, Veterans are integral to the fabric of the United States of America. To date, four of the five states with the highest veteran population have full legalization of cannabis. Nine of the top ten have legalized cannabis for either recreational or medicinal use. With a growing number of states with cannabis use laws, there are essential factors to consider when it comes to how it impacts the lives of those who have served our country.  

Veteran Health and Cannabis

The benefits of cannabis are great, especially regarding ailments most common among the veteran population. For example, it is commonly said to be a positive force for relieving symptoms from chronic pain, PTSD, and cancers caused by exposure to herbicides. Though it does not provide a cure, supporters of cannabis use agree there are significant benefits, especially when alternate prescription medications are considered – most commonly opioids. Unfortunately, while the VA is looking to better manage veterans’ health, they still do not recognize cannabis as a viable substitute. The VA understands that many veterans use cannabis regularly as part of their health management routine, noting that cannabis use among veterans has increased from 9% in 2014 to 20% in 2020 on their website.

Even though the VA has taken a stance of acceptance regarding veteran cannabis use, veterans should be aware of how the consumption can affect their healthcare journey. The VA requests that all patients be open with their medical providers about their personal cannabis use. The primary stance is one of safety. Since there is still limited research around cannabis consumption caused by legal blocks, there may be concerns about potential contraindications between treatment plans and cannabis use. Disclosing cannabis use to a VA provider remains in the medical record as private health information. The VA will not deny benefits to veterans who share this information with providers per Directive 1315. However, the VA adheres to the federal stance on cannabis as a Schedule I drug. There have been reports of veterans being denied specific treatments and benefits because of marijuana consumption. Ultimately, until there is overall cannabis reform on a federal level, any federal agency will recognize it as a schedule I drug.

 Pro-Cannabis Veteran Groups

The acceptance of cannabis use among veterans is essential when considering the growing favor of legislation reform. According to The Military Times, veterans are more involved with their community than their civilian peers and are more likely to vote.

While the conversation on evolving legislation continues, many veteran groups are making public statements in favor of evolving cannabis laws. For example, The Wounded Warrior Project cited reform encouraging increased research on cannabis research. In addition, it recommended cannabis training for primary care providers working in the VA facilities in their statement for the record in front of the House Committee for Veteran Affairs. Disabled American Veterans (DAV) has also released public support for the benefits cannabis use has for veterans living with disabilities. In addition, several veteran groups dedicated to cannabis reform have developed over the years, including the Veterans Cannabis Project, Veterans Cannabis Group, and the Veterans Cannabis Coalition. They are making strides in advocating for veteran cannabis use.

Veterans and Fluent

At FLUENT, we extend our appreciation by offering a standing 20% discount on all products to veterans and their spouses, with the ability to stack up for more savings with most daily sales. We strive to meet the needs of our local veteran population by providing quality medical marijuana products and providing personalized care with private consultation rooms at each dispensary location. Stop by any of our 27 Florida locations and see what cannabis can do for you.