A systematic review of over 500 studies on marijuana use and military veterans published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review — the first of its kind — found that marijuana use among veterans was associated with primarily negative outcomes such as other substance abuse, mental health issues, and instances of self-harm/suicidality.
The review stated that “very few studies have examined the therapeutic efficacy of medical cannabis in veterans and those that have are of low quality methodologically.”
“This study builds upon the body of evidence we have that tells us we cannot proceed flippantly when it comes to marijuana use and our veterans. As a result of marijuana industry marketing, some twenty-three states list PTSD symptoms as a qualifying condition for ‘medical’ marijuana, flying in the face of research such as this, and other recent research that finds marijuana use could be exacerbating mental health harms among our nation’s veterans. As some 20 veterans die by suicide each day, we cannot afford to get this wrong.”
Recently, a study of more than 300 veterans found that marijuana use exacerbated symptoms of PTSD for those who suffered from a marijuana use disorder. This study builds on a foundation of research, signaling that marijuana use among veterans suffering from symptoms of PTSD could cause worse outcomes.
Adding to this, another recent study published in the journal Depression & Anxiety found marijuana use among military personnel with PTSD symptoms may lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Furthermore, a Yale study published by the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that marijuana-dependent Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans have an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide.
“All veterans should have a healthy and successful readjustment to civilian life, and we need to do better when it comes to their health care,” continued Dr. Sabet. “Should there be a place for marijuana’s components or derivatives as a medical treatment, it must be carefully examined – not forced through based on industry marketing materials.”