Do nurses need to know about cannabis as medicine? In short, yes, nurses need to know about cannabis as medicine.
In July 2018, the National Council State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) published the National Nursing Guidelines for Patients Using Medical Marijuana.
NCSBN guidelines/recommendations for nurses include nurses having, at the minimum, basic and essential knowledge of:
- The endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids, receptors, and interactions
- Cannabis pharmacology and associated research
- Facility/agency policies regarding medical cannabis administration
- The current state of legalization of medical and recreational cannabis use as well as the principles of a medical cannabis program.
The NCSBN also states that the nurse shall be able to (summarized):
- Assess all signs and symptoms of both adverse and relief effects of cannabis
- Assess dose and route of administration
- Document and have appropriate communication with other healthcare providers
- Identify safety considerations for the cannabis patient
Other considerations to note:
- The nurse shall not administer cannabis to a patient unless specifically authorized by the laws of their local jurisdiction (important point)
- The nurse shall approach the patient without judgement regarding the patient’s choice of treatment or preferences
It’s important to note that cannabis legalization is sweeping the country. Medicinal cannabis is legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Which means nurses need to know about cannabis as medicine.
Fortunately, there is organizational support to help nurses increase their knowledge of and understanding about cannabis.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) has supported legalization for medical cannabis for years. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) credentials both organizations and individuals who advance nursing, the recognized authority in nursing credentialing.
The American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) is working towards a cannabis nurse specialty affirmation (certification) for nurses.This affirmation identifies the competencies reflecting the specific knowledge, skill, abilities, accountability, and judgment deemed necessary. This ANA affirmation is valid for five years.
ACNA has officially defined the standards of practice for cannabis nursesand describes the duties of a cannabis nurse as not just educating and supporting patients and their needs, but having knowledge of:
- The endocannabinoid system
- Cannabis therapeutics
- Cannabinoids and terpenoids
- Cannabis laboratory testing requirements
- Potential medication interactions
- Advocacy, ethics, and the law
Again, nurses need to know about cannabis as medicine.
ACNA also recognizes that the role of the cannabis nurse also means acting “as an advocate, coach, and navigator to guide patients through a sea of cannabis information and misinformation.”
In The United States
At a state level, nurses need to learn and understand their local and state legislation and cannabis laws. Laws vary greatly from state to state, with some states having different rules/programs for medical marijuana, recreational adult use, and hemp.
In Vermont, all 3 programs have very different laws and individual mandates. If your state has anursing position paper, be sure to learn that. If you do not, consider working on or towards one. By joining my local ANA-Vermont, I was able to have their support and together, submit a draft position paper with intent to become the Vermont Nurses position paper on cannabis.
Nurses need to know about cannabis as medicine.
With nursing curriculums typically lacking information and education on the endocannabinoid system and the therapeutic use of cannabis, many nurses are finding the need to educate themselves. Nurses who wish to learn about and or specialize in cannabis have to choose which educational option/course is the best fit.
There are several cannabis nurse-led courses to choose from, including:
Radicle Health with Eloise Theissen
Radicle Health provides nurses, healthcare professionals, and cannabis stakeholders with the most comprehensive and up-to-date cannabis curriculum, including online and instructor-led education and training.
($99) Cannabis Foundations: 24 Lessons - 2 CNE
If you’re new to cannabis, start here!
- Describe the endocannabinoid system and how cannabis works in the body
- Understand cannabinoids and terpenes
- Describe different extraction methods
- Describe the benefits of whole plant cannabis vs. isolates
- Describe methods for administering or consuming cannabis
- Understand how to choose safe products
- Describe the typical cannabis allergens
- Understand potency of flowers, milligrams per milliliter, and strength vs. ratio
- Facilitate care outside the scope of healthcare licensure
- Describe prevailing myths and misconceptions
($139) Advanced Cannabinoid Science and Therapeutics: 18 lessons - 2 CNE
This covers more complex topics that are relevant to healthcare professionals.
Follow the 6 Principles of Essential Knowledge
- Understand general guidelines for assessing and dosing patients
- Describe cell receptors, enzymes, ligands, and relevant drug transporters
- Describe how cannabinoids are absorbed, metabolized, distributed, and excreted
- Understand how to assess drug interactions
- Describe history, research, uses, and side effects of synthetic cannabinoids
- Understand the considerations that are unique to senior cannabis users
Various condition-specific topics are also available for those subject matter experts who are interested in how cannabis impacts a specific condition or disease:
Holistic Caring Cannabis Health Coach (CHC) by Elisabeth Mack
Comprehensive and practical curriculum pairs with business building toolkits to create confident Cannabis Health Coaches.
($500) Holistic Caring Health Coach Certification Program: 12 CNE
- History of cannabis; social, legal, and qualifying conditions
- Science and research on the endocannabinoid system (ECS)
- Cannabinoids, terpenes, extraction methods and entourage effects
- Pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, interactions
- Dosing guidelines, tracking, titration, side effects, evaluating efficacy
- Modules: autism, epilepsy, MS, PD, AD, cancer, mental health, autoimmune, chronic pain and opiate reduction, holistic health / functional medicine / wellness
- Costs / Benefits / healthcare settings / policy / insurance expectations
- Shopping at dispensaries, vetting quality CBD products, FLOW criteria
- Regulatory systems/steps to apply for a cannabis license
- Marketing, business of coaching, consulting, cannabis networking, resources
Includes ALL above AND The Holistic Caring CHC Toolkit:
- Includes legal waivers, disclosure forms, patient assessment and appointment forms, teaching files, care plans, dosing protocols, tracking logs, client resources.
- Primer Ebook, Cannabis/CBD 101 presentations, listing in HC online provider directory, marketing, etc.
- Participation in Mastermind clinical webinars & operations calls, use of the HC logo, business coaching and community forums. *Licensed IP*
The Training Academy for Medical Cannabis (TAMC) by Lisa Hedin
($99) Cannabis 101 LIVE - virtual 3 hour course
- History, endocannabinoid system, plant, and cannabinoids
($975) Cannabis Nurse Certificate Course: 7 CNE (includes Cannabis 101)
- LIVE virtual Cannabis Course
- 1:1 coaching call
- Tool kit of forms and templates
($1999) Cannabis Mastermind with Nursepreneur
We take it a step further and offer business coaching packages to help you succeed as a cannabis nurse consultant (course includes both courses above).
- 1:1 VIP call with Lisa to discuss setting up your business
- Toolkit of template forms to start a cannabis nurse consulting business
- 6 months of support on live webinars, business collateral design (business cards, logos, brochures, powerpoint decks), and brand kit created for you
- Exclusive access to a collaborative nurse group for additional resources
- Business listing in an online cannabis directory
- Discounted on all future TAMC events, including conferences and retreats
Cansoom taught by various nurses
($1397) Cansoom Medical Cannabis Consultant Certificate: 7 CNE
This course is aimed at bridging the gap between healthcare and cannabis medicine and provides support and mentorship to discover your lane in the cannabis industry.
- Cannabinoids (endogenous, phytp-cannabiboids)
- Endocannabisoid system
- Therapeutic Indication for Cannabis Use
- Cannabis Dosages and Routes of Administration
- Cannabis Care Plans
- Healthcare professional's role in patient care and education regarding the safe use of cannabis
- State and Federal Laws regarding cannabis as medicine
- A copy of the Medical Cannabis Consultants handbook
- A copy of the Cansoom Cannabis Consumption Journal
- Medical Cannabis Consultants Certificate
- 6 Months free listing in the cansoom directory for your consulting business
- Access to the Cansoom Medical Consultants facebook group
- Mentorship as you start your cannabis business
Pacific College of Health and Science offers the first college-level WASC accredited medical cannabis certificate for healthcare providers. The curriculum was developed by nurses, including the current chair of the program, American Cannabis Nurses Association Past President, Carey S Clark, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, RYT, FAAN.
It is crucial that healthcare providers are confident enough to educate and coach patients on the safe, effective use of medical cannabis. Pacific College believes that The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) created guidelines for nurses that defined six essential areas of knowledge and skills, are universal and appropriate for all healthcare workers and has used these guidelines as the basis for its certificate.
This 8-credit fully online academic certificate program can be completed in about 6 months.
The classes covers:
- The endocannabinoid system
- Clinical practice
- Includes a capstone project
Financial aid may be available for those who qualify.
Books By Nurses
Healing with CBD: How Cannabidiol Can Transform Your Life by Eileen Konieczy and Lauren Wilson.
Discusses history of cannabis, the ECS, the cannabinoids, and hones in on CBD (its use in 27 different conditions, how to administer, and dosage strategies)
Pain Free with CBD by Alice O’Leary Randall, with Eloise Theisen
Everything you need to know to safely and effectively use cannabidiol
Medical Marijuana in America: Memoir of a Pioneer by Alice O’Leary Randall
Alice has been called the First Lady of Medical Marijuana.
This is a shocking story of government indifference to the seriously ill and the unbelievable steps taken by the federal government to squash the medical marijuana movement. It is part history and part biography. But it is also a love story of a remarkable collaboration that changed the way America looks at marijuana.
Marijuana Rx: The Patients' Fight for Medicinal Pot by Robert Randall and Alice O’Leary
Discusses the arguments for and against the use of marijuana as a medical treatment
Cannabis As Medicine: A Healthcare Guide by Elisabeth Mack
A modern and comprehensive resource covering such topics as the history, research, science, available products, clinical considerations, dosages and titration of medicines, and practical applications of cannabis medicine today.
Cannabis for Health: Become a Coach by Elisabeth Mack
This is a handbook to understand CBD & Cannabis as Medicine. It is written for all healthcare professionals, dispensary staff, patients, and all who want to utilize cannabis for care. A summary of cannabis medicine in America covers the history, research, science, clinical considerations, dosages and titration of modern medicines.
Cannabis: A Handbook for Nurses by Carey Clark
This groundbreaking new guide addresses nursing skills and responsibilities in cannabis care, including the physiology of the human endocannabinoid system, cannabis care as it relates to specific disease processes, the history of cannabis, advocacy and ethics, and the ins and outs of cannabis dosing, delivery methods, side effects, and more. This book focuses on defining the role of the cannabis care nurse. Essential for all practice areas, this is a timely, much-needed foundation.
Cannabis Journal by April Hatch
Our patient Treatment Journal provides science-based education on cannabinoids, terpenes, strains, methods of delivery, and how to manage side effects. Keep track of your treatment. Provides pages for patients to track their treatments, effects, and results over time so they can best determine what products or strains have worked best for them.
When using cannabis for specific conditions, it's important to track your cannabis consumption so that you can learn what works best. This cannabis consumption journal will help you track your cannabis use over 14 days.
For more information (because nurses need to know about cannabis), visit the Nurse Education page here on the NurseGrown site.