This research examines the reasons for and effect of cannabis use in veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Despite rapidly changing cannabis use regulations in Canada, including health care support for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veterans, the prevalence of and reasons for cannabis use in this population have not been studied. Approximately half of the respondents to this study reported a history of cannabis use. Of these, approximately 35.5% reported beginning cannabis use before a military-related trauma, 23% reported beginning after a traumatic event, and 42% reported beginning after release. Participants stated that they used cannabis primarily for relaxation, emotional calm and pain management. Only 10% reported its use specifically for PTSD-related symptoms and anxiety. Chronic cannabis users (i.e., one or more years) endorsed a greater number of cannabis abuse symptoms than acute users (i.e., one time to less than three months). Cannabis users were also more likely to use both prescription and non-prescription drugs. No relationship was found between cannabis use and military-related PTSD symptom severity or pain severity. Cannabis use, along with other substance use, is common among CAF veterans, and the reasons for cannabis use vary greatly. Cannabis use does not appear to have an impact on PTSD- and pain-related symptom expression.
Cannabis use among Canadian Armed Forces Veterans. Roxanne Sterniczuk and John Whelan. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health 2016 2:2, 43-52.