Some U.S. states still mull on whether or not to legalize marijuana as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental condition that can develop after a person experiences a traumatic event.
Major studies have yet to prove that cannabis is indeed effective against PTSD, which is why the Department of Veterans Affairs has not yet green-lighted its use.
Veterans, however, who are known to have increased risk for the mental disorder due to the violent and dangerous nature of their work, increasingly use cannabis to treat PTSD despite that pot is still illegal in many states across the country and there is limited research to back up the effectiveness of cannabis in addressing the condition.
Although studies have been limited and even contradictory, some former military members claim that pot helps them manage insomnia, nightmares and anxiety with some claiming that prescription drugs that are used to treat their condition such as Zoloft and Klonopin were not effective and even leave them feeling like zombies.
Former marine Mike Whiter who was initially prescribed with medications when he was diagnosed with PTSD said that the drugs left him nearly able to function but cannabis proved to be of much help to him.
"I went from being an anxious mess to numbing myself with the pills they were giving me," Whiter told the Associated Press. "Cannabis helped me get out of the hole I was in."
While pot may have been beneficial to Whiter and to a number of other PTSD-afflicted veterans, some experts are skeptical about the benefits of pot in treating the condition.
Karen Drexler, from the VA, cited the risk for marijuana dependence among those who use pot for PTSD. She said that veterans should wait for more research because it can be very hard to stop using marijuana once you start using it.
The VA has in fact seen an increase in the number of veterans with PTSD who have been diagnosed with marijuana dependence, a condition that can possibly hamper recovery from war-related trauma.
From 13 percent in 2002, the percentage of these PTSD-afflicted veterans who developed marijuana dependence climbed to nearly 23 percent, which is equal to more than 40,000 veterans.
Cannabis use disorder is marked by inability to sleep and becoming irritable without marijuana. It may also affect the patient's personal relationships with other people and ability to hold jobs.