With polling showing Americans’ support for marijuana legalization has hit new highs, a new survey by the American Legion shows strong support within the military veteran community for medical marijuana research and legalization.
The “robo-call” survey commissioned by America’s largest veterans service organization polled vets and their non-professional caregivers in early October. It found that 81 percent of veterans and 83 percent of caregivers support the federal legalization of cannabis to treat a physical or mental condition.
“We already know that greater than 80% of the American public supports research into the efficacy of medical cannabis,” Joe Plenzler, spokesman for the American Legion, said in a statement to The Cannabist. “What this survey shows is that America’s veterans feel even more strongly about the need to study cannabis and its potential in treating, PTSD, chronic pain and other ailments veterans face every day.”
The Legion has been a vocal advocate for rescheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act to permit research into its medical efficacy for treating vets suffering from chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other ailments affecting veterans. The group has has also called on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to clear roadblocks that threaten the completion of a groundbreaking clinical study on the use of medical marijuana to treat PTSD in veterans.
Of the survey’s 1,360 respondents from across the U.S., 802 identified themselves as either a military veteran (513) or a non-professional veteran caregiver (289). The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.43 percentage points.
Some of the findings:
• 92% of all survey respondents support medical research, while 82% of all respondents favor legalizing medical cannabis.
• 81% of veterans surveyed support the federal legalization of cannabis to treat a physical or mental condition. That number is slightly higher among caregivers, with 83% of that group supporting federally-legal treatment.
• Both the veterans (92%) and caregivers (93%) surveyed strongly support research into medical cannabis.
• Support for cannabis research and legalization was seen across the U.S. — with 60% of survey respondents living in states where medical cannabis is not legal.
• The issue also has support across the political spectrum: 88% of self-identified conservative respondents, as well as 90% of self-identified liberals and 70% of self-identified non-partisans, support federally legalized medical cannabis.
• Approval for federally legalized medical cannabis was found across all age ranges: 79% of survey respondents aged 60 or older said they supported federal legalization, with approval ratings even higher among younger respondents — 87% approval from those aged 46-59, 96% approval from those aged 31-45 and 100% approval by respondents aged 18-30.
The survey’s authors also said it was “clear” from their research that veterans are accessing cannabis in states with and without legislated medical marijuana programs. The survey reported that one in five veterans are currently using cannabis to alleviate a medical or physical condition, with about 40% of caregivers knowing a veteran who was using marijuana for those reasons. Remarkably, the majority of cannabis-using veterans taking part in the survey were over the age of 60.
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