Study: 7.4% of Military Members and 20.3% of Former Members Recently Used Marijuana

A new study gives details on how many military service members in the US are using marijuana both while on active duty and following their leave.

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The study’s abstract notes that there “is little data on cannabis use among military service members, particularly when examining the period after separation from military service.” This new research, published online by the National Library of Medicine, “examines cannabis-related perceptions and use among U.S. Army Reserve/National Guard (USAR/NG) current and former soldiers.” The study was conducted at the University at Buffalo’s Department of Community Health and Health Behavior.

For the study researchers used data from Operation: SAFETY (Soldiers And Families Excelling Through the Years), an ongoing study examining health among male and female USAR/NG soldiers. The current sample was comprised of 401 current and former USAR/NG soldiers.

“Logistic regression models examined the associations between past-year cannabis use, military status (i.e., current versus former), attitudes towards recreational cannabis, perceived ease of access, and perceived risk of cannabis use, while controlling for age, problematic alcohol use, and current cigarette smoking”, states the study.

Researchers found that “Overall, 7.4% of current and 20.3% of former military service members used cannabis in the past year. Favorable attitudes towards cannabis use and perceived ease of accessing cannabis were associated with increased odds of use among all soldiers.”

In adjusted models, “former military members had greater odds (AOR = 5.28, 95% CI = 2.16, 12.87) of past-year cannabis use compared to current service members.”

Researchers conclude:

Findings indicate that separation from the military may be an important risk factor to consider when assessing cannabis use in the military. Additional research is needed to examine socioenvironmental factors (e.g., access to post-deployment support services and healthcare, state legalization laws, other behavioral health conditions) that contribute to former service members’ cannabis use.

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