MASS LIVE Researchers studying veterans’ use of medical marijuana; early results presented in Holyoke
By Anne-Gerard Flynn | Special to The Republican
April 18 HOLYOKE — How much do veterans in Massachusetts use cannabis, and why do they use it?
Those questions are at the center of the Veterans Health and Cannabis Citizen Science Study. The anonymous online survey, which is still seeking participants, is designed to help advance understanding of the drug in terms of its use for medical and behavioral health conditions.
The study’s organizers say it seeks input on veterans’ current health status, treatment regimens and medications and their current marijuana use. Other questions ask about quality of life issues, access to insurance options, service history and demographics.
Preliminary results from the study, launched in early March, were shared Thursday evening during the presentation, “Cannabis Equity: Big business and small business working together" at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke. The Cannabis Community Care and Research Network, Veterans Alternative Healing and Joint Venture & Co. hosted the event; Steven Hoffman, chair of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, was the keynote speaker.
Other participants scheduled included Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and study organizers.
Early study results are said to show that, to date, 67% of the veterans who have completed the survey reported using medical marijuana, while 57% reported using it for recreation.
Thirty-six percent of respondents reported chronic pain as their top health condition; 28%, post-traumatic stress disorder; 11%, anxiety; and 11%, depression.
Medical marijuana use was reported by 37 percent to be most helpful in managing chronic pain.
Twenty-five percent said it was most helpful in managing PTSD while 9% found it most helpful with anxiety and three percent with cancer.
Among those who use medical marijuana, 67% reported using it to reduce over-the-counter or prescription medication use. When asked about healthcare provider acceptance, 62% of respondents were said to report their VA or healthcare provider knew about their cannabis use.
Fifty-nine percent of those same people were said to report not being sure if their provider supported their medical cannabis use.
Qualifying medical conditions in Massachusetts for medical marijuana include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating conditions.
Can Massachusetts become a leader in marijuana research?
Conducting marijuana research is challenging because of legal and financial barriers, since marijuana remains illegal federally.
The Cannabis Community Care and Research Network launched a national — as well as Massachusetts-focused — cannabis consumer and patient study last June in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, and has held related forums in the area.
Among the 950 participants from Massachusetts to date in that study, 33% were said to use medical cannabis for chronic pain; 26% for anxiety and 14% for depression.
Those results were said to prompt the launch of the second study whose partners also include AmeriCann, which is developing the Massachusetts Cannabis Center, a one-million-square-foot sustainable cannabis cultivation and processing facility in Freetown.
Other study partners include the Massachusetts Chapter of Disabled American Veterans as well as Healing Rose and number of the state’s 49 registered dispensaries for medical marijuana including Revolutionary Clinics, Bask Cannabis, The Botanist, Insa, and Central Ave Compassionate Care.
The study will continue through the end of the year. Veterans taking the online survey will receive cannabis-related discounts.
The third presentation in the six-part Cannabis Advancement Series promoting the survey and having a focused on veterans, medical cannabis and the opioid epidemic, will be June 20 at Bull Mansion in Worcester.
According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, some 68,000 veterans had opioid use disorder in 2015, a threefold increase in 12 years. They are twice as likely as non-veterans to die from accidental opioid overdoses, according to a U.S. Department of Veterans 2014 report.
The Cannabis Community Care and Research Network was founded in 2017 by Marion McNabb, who holds a doctorate in public health from Boston University, and cannabis community advocate Randal MacCaffrie, both of whom participated in the April 18 forum.
C3RN specializes in providing research and analytic services related to the impacts of medical and adult-use recreational cannabis and is a public benefit corporation based in Worcester and operates the developing virtual Cannabis Center of Excellence.
Massachusetts voters approved marijuana for medical use in 2012, and in November 2016 approved a ballot question legalizing recreational marijuana.
Original Article: https://www.masslive.com/news/2019/04/researchers-studying-veterans-use-of-medical-marijuana-early-results-presented-in-holyoke.html