In another step forward for the use of cannabis in healthcare, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has announced its formal recognition of cannabis nursing as a nursing specialty.
Founded in 1896, the ANA represents the interests of the 5 million registered nurses in the USA, and has members in all 50 states. As well as lobbying on issues directly affecting the nursing profession, ANA takes stances on issues important to its members.
In 2021, the ANA released an official position statement indicating the organisation’s support for the review and reclassification of marijuana’s status from a federal Schedule I controlled substance. This, ANA said, would support more clinical research to inform patients and providers on the efficacy of marijuana and related cannabinoids. The statement also addressed the roles and responsibilities of nurses related to the use of cannabinoids.
Prior to issuing the 2021 position statement, ANA had supported providing safe access to therapeutic marijuana and related cannabinoids for more than two decades.
Commenting on its latest move, ANA President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy said:
“This recognition highlights the essential role and special contribution of cannabis nurses to the health care system and promotes enhanced integration of cannabis therapies for health care consumers across diverse health care settings.”
Cannabis nursing has been identified by the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) as a specialty nursing practice focused on the care of health care consumers seeking education and guidance in the therapeutic use of cannabis. ACNA was founded by a small group of dedicated nurses in 2009 to discuss the growing use of cannabis in medicine and to advance its proper usage through advocacy, collaboration, education, research, and policy development.
ACNA welcomed ANA’s recognition.
“Nurses are the largest group of health professionals, providing an opportunity to change the health care paradigm and include diverse wellness modalities beyond traditional Western medicine,” said ACNA President Rachel Parmelee. “Cannabis nursing requires specialized knowledge and competencies to navigate care and address the stigma associated with medical cannabis use to support a healthy society.”
In 2017, the ACNA called for evidence-based cannabis education to be made available to all practicing nurses and healthcare providers in order to support nurses’ competency with the endocannabinoid system and the “entourage effect” of whole plant cannabis medicine. The “entourage effect” is a term used to describe medical cannabis treatment efficacy not being limited to a specific cannabinoid, but multiple compounds working together producing a therapeutic effect.