Veterans' Health and Medical Cannabis Study

Gibby's Garden in Partnership with The Cannabis Center of Excellence and four retail dispensaries in Massachusetts set out to bring special study priced cannabis bundles to local Veterans. Participants were asked to report on their experience with the cannabis products through an app called Tetragram, and to fill out a survey through the Cannabis Center of Excellence's iCount for Veteran portal.

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Understanding How Cannabis Impacts PTSD, Chronic Pain, Mental Health Issues in Veterans

The Cannabis Center of Excellence recently published groundbreaking research exploring how military veterans leverage medical cannabis to manage widespread health challenges. This first-of-its-kind study offers invaluable real-world perspectives on cannabis’ risk/benefit profile. Over 200 veterans provided detailed experiences on medical cannabis usage through custom mobile apps and surveys. This rigorous dual methodology enabled granular documentation of cannabis’ efficacy across a spectrum of high-burden conditions frequently faced by veterans. By gathering comprehensive, real-world data directly from medical cannabis using veterans, this study provides unprecedented insights that build a compelling case for cannabis’ therapeutic role.

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Unprecedented Trial Structure Delivers Critical Usage Insights

Over 200 veterans provided detailed experiences through custom mobile apps and surveys, furnishing a wealth of data on how cannabis impacts health outcomes. This rigorous methodology enabled granular documentation of cannabis’ efficacy across a spectrum of high-burden conditions that routinely challenge veterans such as chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety, depression and more. By leveraging apps and surveys, researchers could capture comprehensive information on conditions treated, symptoms relieved, side effects, and ability to reduce prescription medications. This groundbreaking study structure delivered pivotal insights that were previously lacking in conventional medical literature. The real-world data provides invaluable perspectives on optimizing cannabis’ risk/benefit profile among veterans.

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Cannabis Demonstrates Effectiveness for Nearly 40% of Veteran Respondents

Initial results exhibit cannabis’ remarkable effectiveness in alleviating PTSD (37% using), anxiety (46%), depression (42%), and chronic pain (34%) – some of the most pervasive and challenging conditions among veterans. With over a third of veteran respondents using cannabis to address these critical health issues, it demonstrates substantial real-world efficacy despite lack of clinical trials. Considering the scale of veterans affected by treatment-resistant mental health and chronic pain conditions, these findings represent a breakthrough for an extremely underserved population. The data presents compelling evidence that medical cannabis could provide veterans relief without reliance on highly addictive opioids, benzodiazepines, and other pharmaceuticals.

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Favorable Side Effect Profile Reveals Differentiation from Opioids, Benzos

In addition to conditions treated, the study gathered critical safety and tolerability data contrasting cannabis to high-risk pharmacological options commonly overprescribed to veterans. 77% of veterans reported no adverse side effects from medical cannabis, compared to near universal sedation, nausea, constipation and dependency risks with opioids. This stark differentiation in safety profile demonstrates cannabis’ viability as a substitute for medications with severe and often deadly unintended consequences. Furthermore, with nearly 30% of respondents actively attempting to reduce prescription med use through cannabis, it highlights a potential pathway to minimizing reliance on the VA’s addiction-forming pharmaceutical practices.

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Study results show benefits of cannabis for veterans.
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Latest Findings Build Compelling Case for Cannabis Among Vets

These unprecedented discoveries confirm cannabis’ immense potential for helping veterans manage treatment-resistant chronic illnesses without risky addictive medications. The latest findings represent an inflection point in the evidence supporting cannabis as viable adjunct or replacement for pharmaceuticals that have created a public health crisis. But more research is still vital to transform anecdotal signals into clinical best practices that maximize therapeutic benefits while preventing abuse. Only through rigorous controlled trials can cannabis’ full potential be unlocked to alleviate the heavy burden of mental illness and chronic pain for veterans nationwide.

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Study Reaffirms Need to Reduce Stigma Among Veterans

Despite profound evidence of therapeutic efficacy, study authors emphasize the persistent stigma surrounding cannabis that deters many veterans from trying it. With only 43% of VA doctors aware of their patients’ cannabis use according to findings, it highlights the need for open provider-patient dialogues enabling informed decisions. Furthermore, the study reveals a strong desire for social equity programs improving accessibility/affordability among veterans reliant on disability income. Reducing stigma through physician cannabis education and social justice initiatives has potential to help countless more veterans experience relief.

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Data Supports Calls to Reform VA Medication Prescribing Guidelines

The promising risk/benefit profile demonstrated for medical cannabis contrasts sharply with issues associated to overprescribed medications at the VA. Initial discoveries showcase cannabis’ viability to minimize reliance on opioids, benzodiazepines and other pharmaceuticals without severe side effects. With veterans reporting effectively alleviating conditions like chronic pain and PTSD with cannabis rather than addictive drugs, findings strengthen calls to update VA prescribing policies emphasizing cannabis readiness. As more states establish legal medical cannabis frameworks, the latest study warrants proactive exploration of reforms facilitating access for veterans nationwide.

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Real-World Evidence Spotlights Need for Federal Policy Reforms

Despite accumulating positive safety and efficacy data, medical cannabis remains federally illegal and inaccessible to many veterans. These latest real-world findings add to calls for rescheduling and decriminalization reforms that empower physicians to provide veterans informed care involving cannabis use. With limited state-level access and research obstacles from cannabis’ Schedule I status, millions of veterans are deprived of a promising treatment modality. Federal policy changes ending prohibition enable streamlined clinical trials further demonstrating cannabis’ benefits and harms to guide usage. Achieving nationwide therapeutic access hinges on data-driven cannabis policy revisions aimed at helping veterans manage challenging health conditions.

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Subscribe for Future Updates and Get Involved in Advancing Cannabis Science

We invite you to subscribe to the Cannabis Center of Excellence blog for ongoing news about newly released findings from this groundbreaking medical cannabis study for veterans. You can also discover additional details by contacting CCOE to request access to the organization’s data platform showcasing more results. 

Consider joining the “Citizen Scientist” initiative to participate directly in shaping future cannabis research priorities for veterans based on your experiences. 

Thanks to key partners like Gibby’s Garden and supporting cannabis dispensaries that helped sponsor this study, CCOE can continue conducting invaluable real-world research. Assistance from donors and engaged citizens may help to uncover cannabis’ full potential benefits for veterans suffering from chronic illnesses.

Subscribing and getting involved fuels further studies that give veterans everywhere hope in responsibly using cannabis as an alternative for highly addictive medications.

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CCOE - Press for Veterans Health and Cannabis Study

First-of-its-Kind Research Project Launched in Massachusetts to Study Veteran Access to Medical Cannabis

Published on: July 15, 2022
Erin McEvoy

The Cannabis Center of Excellence, in partnership with Gibby's Garden, collaborated with four retail locations to conduct a study on Veterans' access to medical cannabis. Led by Dr. Marion McNabb and her team of experts, the study yielded significant data about Veterans and the impact of access to medicinal cannabis.

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In Massachusetts, New Research Project Examines Veterans’ Access to Medical Cannabis


​Dr. Marion McNabb and the ​Cannabis Center of Excellence, in collaboration with Gibby's Garden, research Veterans' access to medical cannabis in Massachusetts, exploring gaps and solutions in legal markets.

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iCount for Veterans: A Research Platform to Connect Veterans with Cannabis Research Studies Led by the Cannabis Center of Excellence, UMass Dartmouth, and Patriots Helping Vets

Published on: December 20, 2022

Dr. Marion McNabb and the Cannabis Center of Excellence, in collaboration with Gibby's Garden, research Veterans' access to medical cannabis in Massachusetts, exploring gaps and solutions in legal markets. View full article by Cannabis Patient Care. 

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The Veteran Chronicles: Gotta Grow | High Times


Tom Rand, featured in High Times, empowers veterans to grow medical cannabis, providing free equipment and education. Partnering with the Cannabis Center of Excellence, Gibby's Garden, and Dr. Marion McNabb, his mission is highlighted in the Veteran Chronicles: Gotta Grow.

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This resource collaborative is housed at the Cannabis Center of Excellence, INC. This work is made possible with funding from partners and collaborators.

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