A pair of preliminary studies involving veterans finds that both physicians and vets have a relatively positive attitude towards marijuana usage, saying that marijuana should be legalized, MedPage Today reports.
The 31 veterans surveyed in one particular study were enrolled in a substance abuse program and engaged in face-to-face interviews with Dr. Samuel Wilkinson and his colleagues. Of the small sample of 31 veterans, 30 were male, and ages ranged between 24 and 65.
Most of the veterans think that other drugs cause more overt changes in behavior compared to marijuana, and 77 percent believe that marijuana is relatively low-risk. Since they view marijuana as naturally grown, veterans were astonished at the idea that marijuana could be viewed as addictive and result in substance abuse problems. For the veterans, marijuana has little to no withdrawal symptoms. The overwhelming result was that these veterans want the drug to be legalized.
“Clearly veterans are among the majority of Americans who support rolling back our nation’s failed marijuana prohibition policies. Marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol to the user and to society, and it should be treated that way,” Mason Tvert, Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“These results serve to highlight that there is a significant sense among individuals with substance use disorders that marijuana has few features of a drug of abuse,” the authors wrote. “By extension, the legalization of marijuana is not only appropriate, but would serve to move it out of a space where it acts as a connection to other drugs and criminal activity.”
A minority of veterans, however, placed marijuana in the same category as cocaine and heroin. They argue marijuana can lead to psychosis and paranoia while also functioning as a gateway drug.
In the other study, researchers Aman Mahajan and Ayame Takahashi found using online surveys that 56 percent of physicians believe marijuana is an acceptable medical treatment, although a similar 56 percent didn’t think that marijuana use could lead to substantial health benefits. Exactly 62 percent of physicians think that marijuana should be reclassified and legalized for recreational use.
“Not surprisingly, medical societies and health organizations around the country have taken positions in support of allowing seriously ill people to have safe access to medical marijuana,” Tvert added.
Since marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug on the federal level, Veterans Affairs hospitals cannot prescribe marijuana as treatment, even if on the state level marijuana is legalized. If veterans report their usage of marijuana for medicinal purposes to the VA, they can face criminal charges, which is frustrating for veterans looking for an alternative to traditional opioids.
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