Mar 28, 2019 09:57PM
Cannabis Nursing, a developing field of nursing, is making great strides as the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) recently released a comprehensive guideline for medicinal cannabis and nurses nationally as a special supplement to the Journal of Nursing Regulation.
We take great pride in being part of the catalyst that made this happen by bringing awareness to the nursing profession. Cannabis Nurses Magazine and Media has been transformed into Cannabis Nurses Network, a professional educational platform and support system for nursing professionals.
In 2014, I realized education was the key to removing the stigma of cannabis, which sparked the creation of Cannabis Nurses Magazine. From there, Cannabis Nurses Network Conference (CNNC), a platform for evidence-based education, began leading the way in Las Vegas in October 2015 with its first in a series of annual conferences for nurses. These platforms created awareness for the newly developing field of cannabis nursing and are still bringing awareness to the forefront of nursing and leading the way.
NCSBN states “nurses and nursing students must have a basic understanding of the endocannabinoid system, the scientific evidence base related to cannabis and symptom management, and how cannabis works in the body to relieve pain and many other distressing symptoms. Nurses are responsible for knowing the cannabis policies and legislation in their state and are leading the way in bridging the gap to the healthcare industry.”
According to Katherine Thomas, MN, RN, FAAN, NCSBN board of directors president and executive director of the Texas Board of Nursing, the lack of guidelines for nurses caring for individuals using cannabis needed to be addressed, and the NCSBN board of directors decided to study the issues. The committee worked for two years reviewing relevant statistics, current legislation, scientific literature, and clinical research on cannabis as a therapeutic agent.
Publication of the National Nursing Guidelines for Patients Using Medical Marijuana marks an important time in nursing history. For the first time, state nursing boards have much-needed guidance at a national level to help structure policy and decisions regarding cannabis-related topics relevant to each state. Individual state boards of nursing, previously hesitant or waiting for federal approval to address cannabis issues, now have structure and support in implementing changes based on new and nationally recognized nursing guidelines. This is a profound time in history.
Nurses are the first profession out of the gate to set national guidelines and have been given the official green light to become educated in cannabis therapeutics. Education is the new buzz in the cannabis industry. The NCSBN guidelines allow all state nursing boards, nursing educational programs, and private educational programs across the country to implement education for nurses. Overall, as more nurses become educated, patients will finally get the assistance they need in cannabis therapeutics from properly trained healthcare providers. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, “nurses, the most trusted healthcare professional for honesty and ethics” and are leading the way.
Some say the catalyst that started the NCSBN to conduct its research and guidelines were a small group of nurses who recognized the need for patient safety. Patients using cannabis needed to be assured of safe access, products and consumption practices. Nurses, in turn, pressured state boards of nursing which turned to the NSCBN for guidance.
When the NCSBN released the guidelines for cannabis patient care, it validated the legitimacy of cannabis nursing while underscoring the immediate necessity for medical professionals to gain practical medical marijuana patient care education. Once nurses become educated in cannabis therapeutics, it will allow for training to flow within the medical system and bridge the gap within the healthcare system. In time, patients will be able to have a reliable healthcare provider who is educated on the science behind the plant.
“Nurses and nursing students must have a basic understanding of the endocannabinoid system, the scientific evidence base related to cannabis and symptom management, and how cannabis works in the body to relieve pain and many other distressing symptoms. Nurses are responsible for knowing the cannabis policies and legislation in their state and are leading the way in bridging the gap to the healthcare industry.”