Medical Cannabis Use Among Canadian Veterans

Some initial findings have been published from an ongoing study of cannabis use among Canadian veterans.

MissionVAV is an online health and wellness program for veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families. The program has received funding support from Canada’s Veteran and Well-Being Fund.

Among its activities, the organisation is developing an online health promotion program to help veterans with their use of medical cannabis. Part of this is an anonymous survey to help guide development.

Initial results from the survey show of the 192 participants so far, many are suffering from more than one condition, the most common being:

  • anxiety or stress (61%)
  • post traumatic stress disorder (40%)
  • arthritis (36%)
  • problems sleeping (72%)
  • chronic pain (67%)

In terms of chronic pain, 58% were experiencing a severity that limits their daily activities.

Just 21% rated their health as excellent or very good and 44% rated it as fair or poor. 54% used cannabis more than once daily and 33% daily. The most common forms of administration were oils (61%) and edibles (54%), and smoking was less common at (28%).

For veterans interested in participating in the survey, it can be found here. The survey is being run by health professionals from McGill University.

Cannabis In Canada

Cannabis is widely available in Canada; both for medicinal and recreational use. Canada has had a medical cannabis program in place since 2001 and in October 2018, adult use was legalised. Adults who are 18 years of age or older are legally able to possess up to 30 grams of legally-sourced cannabis in its dried or equivalent form in public, and up to 4 cannabis plants per residence can be grown for personal use. Adults are permitted to buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from provincially-licensed retailers.

The introduction of adult-use has had an impact on the country’s medical cannabis program. For example, the number of medical client registrations with federally licensed sellers fell from 9% from 321,539 in December 2020 to 292,399 in March 2021. The number of individuals registered with Health Canada for personal and designated cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes fell 10% from 43,680 in December 2020 to 39,525 in March 2021. How the program has fared since isn’t clear.

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