A new survey by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America was released Jan. 30, showing the opinions of the 400,000 veterans the group serves. The new survey shows that medical marijuana use has the greatest support, but more than half also support recreational use.
The current survey shows 83% support medical marijuana legalization, up significantly from the 44 % of veterans surveyed in 2017 that supported the move. Meanwhile, 53% support recreational marijuana legalization.
Meanwhile, the veterans themselves are very interested in the idea of pursuing marijuana as an alternative treatment, with 89% willing to take that path if it were determined a viable option for their medical or mental health concerns.
Physicians with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can discuss marijuana as a viable treatment, but due to the fact the drug remains federally prohibited, the doctors cannot recommend the drug’s use for any veteran in their care.
In response to whether marijuana should be researched to determine medical benefits, 90% of those surveyed feel that is the best path moving forward, while 85% feel that the VA specifically should do research on marijuana treatments and the potential benefits. The VA is currently permitted to do marijuana research, but there has been no progress in that area. Legislation was recently reworded to strongly encourage efforts to research marijuana benefits, since the VA has not progressed under its own steam.
The survey found that around 1/5th of the 4,600 veterans who returned the survey have used marijuana for medical purposes. Roughly half of the respondents live in a state that has legalized medical use of marijuana, so the results are logical. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the group have used marijuana for recreational purposes, despite the fact that far fewer states have legalized recreational use.
Of the respondents, around one quarter reported living in states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana.
A similar survey conducted by the American Legion in 2017 showed that 92% of those surveyed support the idea of marijuana research, while 83% are in favour of medical marijuana legalization and 81% would pursue alternative treatments involving marijuana if given the chance.