Mental Health Symptom Severity in Cannabis Using and Non-Using Veterans With Probable PTSD

J Affect Disord. 2016 Jan 15;190:439-442. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2015.10.048. Epub 2015 Oct 28.


Background: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disabling illness suffered by many Veterans returning from war. Some Veterans believe that cannabis may be therapeutic for PTSD. The purpose of this study was to better understand the association between cannabis use and PTSD symptoms.

Methods: The study was a matched case-control cross-sectional evaluation of the psychiatric and sociocultural associations of cannabis use in Veterans with probable PTSD. Patient self-report measures were examined comparing cannabis users (cases) to non-users (controls) who were case-matched on age and gender.

Results: Results indicated that there were no significant differences between cases and controls in mean PTSD Checklist-Civilian version (PCL-C) scores (59.2 and 59.1, respectively). There was also no association between PTSD scores and frequency of cannabis use. It was also observed that cases were more likely to be non-Caucasian, financially challenged, and unmarried.

Limitations: The sample is a convenience sample of Veterans being referred for a clinical assessment and therefore, sampling biases may limit the generalizability of the results to other populations including Veterans not seeking health care in the Veterans Affairs (VA) system.

Conclusions: The results do not support the theory that cannabis use would be associated with less severe PTSD symptoms. Results do suggest important sociocultural differences in cannabis users compared to controls.

Keywords: Cannabis; Mental health; PTSD.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Veterans / psychology*