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  • Jennifer Betz

Medical Marijuana for PTSD and Chronic Pain: Addressing Veterans' Concerns

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Medical marijuana and ptsd

Veterans have special concerns when taking medical marijuana for chronic pain and PTSD.

For some, Memorial Day is a day of pig pickin’ barbecue, warm sunshine, cold brews, and mellow tunes in the backyard. For most of our veterans and their families, however, it is a day of solemn remembrance of those who were lost in service to our country.

At Virginia Marijuana Card, we want to take the opportunity to remember all of the service members who fell during active duty, and extend our care and appreciation to their families.

We thank all who have served and mourn those who died, so that we may live in relative peace and freedom.

With over 10 percent of Virginia’s population having veteran status, The Commonwealth is home to the third-highest concentration of veterans in the United States. Veterans’ issues are important everywhere, but with more than 600 thousand former service members living in Virginia, as well as our proximity to D.C., we have a special opportunity to lead the way in addressing concerns that are vital to veterans and their families.

One issue near and dear to Virginia Marijuana Card, is the use of medical marijuana for the treatment of chronic pain and PTSD related to military service. A higher percentage of veterans report experiencing pain—and that pain is more severe—than non-veterans. Additionally, somewhere between 11 and 30 percent of veterans who have seen active duty have been or will be diagnosed with PTSD.

In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the benefits of using medical marijuana to treat symptoms associated with PTSD and chronic pain, and the progress being made toward protecting former service members who choose to pursue natural relief.

Medical Marijuana for PTSD and Chronic Pain in Virginia

The good news is that both post traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain are on Virginia’s list of conditions that qualify for treatment with cannabis. This means that residents who have a marijuana card can legally purchase products from Virginia dispensaries formulated to address their symptoms.

There are employee protections for people who are registered with the state’s medical marijuana program, and all products are tax-free due to their status as a medication. You can possess up to four ounces of medical marijuana when you have a card, and three out of the four dispensaries currently in operation deliver to nearly everyone in the state.

Virginia has become increasingly marijuana-friendly, and there is a growing body of research indicating that medical marijuana is effective at treating chronic pain and PTSD with fewer risks than opioids. But veterans have special concerns when it comes to using medical marijuana for these conditions.

Virginia Veterans Using Medical Marijuana to Treat PTSD and Chronic Pain Have Special Concerns

Because a veteran’s benefits, including healthcare and monthly retirement income, are tied to the Federal Government, using medical marijuana can bring up special concerns for this demographic.

Marijuana is still federally illegal, because it is recognized by the DEA as a Schedule I controlled substance. People actively serving in the military are forbidden from using marijuana, even under the guidance and recommendation of a physician.

Until the Department of Veteran’s Affairs clarified its position on marijuana use among veterans in 2017, many were worried that using medical marijuana would lead to a cessation of benefits. Fortunately, the VA has specifically stated that veterans who use marijuana will not be penalized. They will still have full access to healthcare and their financial compensation.

VA Doctors Cannot Recommend Marijuana … Yet

As of right now, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I substance, so employees of the VA cannot use it, and doctors cannot recommend it. However, they are required and encouraged to discuss treatment with their patients. VA doctors must make note of medical marijuana in a patient’s chart, and they should discuss use, benefits, and alterations to traditional treatment plans to account for cannabis.

Since 2019, members of Congress have been trying to get some form of the VA Medical Cannabis Research Act passed. This bill would require the VA to conduct research into the efficacy of cannabis for veterans, and allow for progress to be made with new treatment options.

Another bipartisan bill aims to make it legal for VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana in states that have adopted legal programs. This is huge for veterans who experience symptoms that can only be safely managed with medical marijuana.

Increasing Legal Access to Medical Marijuana May Save Veterans’ Lives

PTSD and chronic pain are highly prevalent among veterans, and 75% of veterans are interested in using medical marijuana to treat their symptoms. Medical marijuana is safer and less addictive than most pain relievers—especially opioids—and it is a natural alternative to the drugs often used to treat PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

One study revealed that nearly half of all participants completely stopped using opioids for pain 12 months after beginning treatment with medical marijuana. Even if medical marijuana cannot completely replace traditional treatments, it can drastically reduce the dosage and frequency of certain medications.

This means fewer opioid addictions, fewer overdoses, and treatment methods for PTSD that encourage a greater level of compliance with the therapeutic plan.

While we wait for more comprehensive legislation surrounding medical marijuana for veterans, you can still access natural relief through a Virginia marijuana card. When you have one, you can visit dispensaries in Virginia and get cannabis products like THC oil, vape cartridges, edibles, and topicals in varying strains and concentrations.

Get a Marijuana Card for Natural Relief

Virginia Marijuana Card is here to help guide you through the process of getting medical marijuana that can get you back to yourself again. We are experienced at working with veterans, and we want to set you on the right track to better health and wellbeing. Legally.

Give us a call at (888) 633-5808, or schedule an appointment to talk to one of our compassionate marijuana doctors today.


Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.

At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check out Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Virginia!

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