UNM Researchers Say Cannabis Consumers Are Nicer People
by Bethan Rose
The findings of a new study into cannabis use disorder (CUD) among veterans have been released by a team of researchers from Pennsylvania’s Center of Excellence in Substance Addiction Treatment and Education at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center.
The team discovered that veterans in vulnerable subgroups face a greater risk of developing CUD or are more inclined to use the plant for recreational purposes. Their hypothesis was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. By evaluating “the prevalence of past-12-month and lifetime cannabis use and cannabis use disorder” among American veterans, the researchers were able to conduct a rough analysis of consumption behavior among veterans.
Additionally, the team looked into the ways that “nonmedical” cannabis use and CUD correlate with demographic, substance use, and psychiatric disorders. Their goal was to pinpoint the disparities in CUD prevalence and recreational cannabis consumption among veteran groups that reside in both legal and illegal cannabis states.
While the pool of study subjects could have been larger, researchers were satisfied with the data they gathered from 3,119 respondents. All respondents identified as American military veterans, and the information was pulled from a 2012–2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions–III (NESARC-III).
To accurately assess the connection between CUD and adult cannabis use among veterans, the team of researchers utilized a logistic analysis model in combination with clinical and demographic coordinates. Using this information, they managed to gain a clearer understanding of recreational cannabis consumption frequency contingent on each veteran’s state of residence and the cannabis legalization status in their respective home states.
CUD and adult cannabis use prevalence were determined over the course of the last 12 months. The findings showed that consumption clocked in at 1.8% and 7.3%, respectively. Conversely, lifetime cannabis prevalence was 5.7% and 32.5%.
Among adult cannabis consumers, the team of researchers estimated that previous 12-month and lifetime CUD prevalence rested at 24.4% and 17.4%, respectively. “Nonmedical cannabis use and use disorder were associated with most psychiatric and substance use disorders examined,” the authors wrote.
Perhaps the most notable takeaways from this study on CUD and adult cannabis consumption among veterans were the correlations pertaining to different sociodemographic groups. Some of the sociodemographic groups analyzed for this study included single (unmarried) veterans, young veterans, male veterans, veterans who reside in a medical cannabis-friendly state, and veterans on a low income.
“Among veterans, the odds of nonmedical cannabis use and use disorder were elevated among vulnerable subgroups, including those with lower income or psychiatric disorders and among survey participants residing in states with medical marijuana laws,” said the study’s lead author, Kendall C. Browne, Ph.D.
He emphasized how the study’s findings demonstrate the need to bolster screening practices and increase the number of available resources for veterans who fall into a “high-risk” category for developing CUD. “The study findings highlight the need for clinical attention (e.g., screening, assessment) and ongoing monitoring among veterans in the context of increasing legalization of cannabis,” added Browne, who is currently in the process of fronting a more in-depth clinical research undertaking.
Browne’s new project involves gleaning electronic medical record statistics from the Veterans Health Administration. He and his team will analyze the data to ascertain the repercussions that medical/recreational cannabis laws have on psychotropic medication prescriptions and opioids, including rates of opioid use disorder, fatal and nonfatal overdoses, and prescriptions.
In separate yet related news, an influential Senate committee recently approved an amendment that will provide military veterans with greater access to medical cannabis treatments. Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the measure was approved with a voice vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Aug. 4.
The amendment seeks to provide doctors in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with the power to write cannabis recommendations, so long as the veteran resides in a state that has legalized cannabis. Additionally, the bill would restrict the VA from obstructing and rejecting medical cannabis services to veterans who have enrolled in a state-legal program.
“We have now 36 states that have medical cannabis, and our veterans want to know from their VA doctor what their thoughts are on the pros and cons or appropriate role or challenges of this particular strategy for treating a variety of issues, including PTSD,” explained Merkley. “I think it’s really important that we not force our veterans to be unable to discuss this issue with their doctors.”
Featured below is an excerpt from the amendment text, which is included as part of a bill, outlining the funding avenues for the VA for Fiscal Year 2022:
“SEC. ___ None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Veterans Affairs in this Act may be used in a manner that would:
In 2018, a comparable proposal was also introduced by Sen. Merkley. Despite clearing the Appropriations Committee, it failed to progress further. Over the years, the House has repeatedly given similar chunks of legislation the green light. Nonetheless, a law to enable the issuing of medical cannabis prescriptions by VA doctors has never reached the stage of being officially effectuated.
Cannabis, like any plant or herb stored and used for consumption, has a shelf life. This means that cannabis can go bad, get moldy, and lose potency when stored improperly or simply from age. When cannabis is stored properly, it can last anywhere from six months to a year depending on your storage equipment and…
Hydroponic systems are a popular alternative to the more traditional means of growing cannabis. Hydroponics allows cannabis to be grown without the use of soil and can yield a significant amount of bud, but it comes with more maintenance and risks. Regardless, some growers believe the benefits of hydroponics are worth the laborious process. One…
Michigan is mourning the loss of a prominent cannabis advocate, an American man’s family is fighting to bring him home from Russian prison, and a bill designed to aid veterans had a tumultuous journey through Congress. Let’s dive into this week’s cannanews. Michigan Remembers Late Cannabis Activist Zahra Abbas Last week, Michigan’s Democratic Party Cannabis…
New data published in the Journal of Cannabis Research claims that almost one in two authorized medical cannabis patients in Canada managed to either completely stop or reduce their intake of controlled substances, such as alcohol and opioids, by using cannabis. The study, which was carried out by a group of researchers from Canada and…
On July 4, a gunman took to the streets during the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. The shooter took the lives of seven people and wounded dozens more during his rampage. CNN explains that the suspect, Robert E. Crimo III, was arrested in connection to the shooting, after which he admitted that…
A new study is set to examine the use of cannabis for anxiety. The collaborative effort between CannaMD, Florida Gulf Coast University,…
Smoking cigarettes or other devices containing nicotine can negatively interact with contraceptives (birth control pills) by increasing the risk of stroke, blood…