Cannabis Nursing is Specialty Practice Area, Says ANA

Stephen Andrews
06 Oct 2023

The American Nurses Association (ANA), an organization which represents over 5 million nurses in the nation, has formally recognized cannabis nursing as a separate specialty practice area. Just like there are practice areas such as public health nursing, pediatric nursing, oncology nursing, there also is cannabis nursing.

The organization released an official statement at the end of last month, saying that cannabis nurses play a vital role in instructing and guiding patients as they embed marijuana into treatment plans. 

“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,” ANA’s president, Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, said in a statement. 

Cannabis nursing understands providing professional health care to patients with appropriate cannabis and CBD treatments, depending on symptom and disease presentation. Nurses help patients find products and strains that work best for them, and offer education and guidance for the effective and safe use of cannabis. 

It’s a relatively new field of practice, originally identified with the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA). The group advocates for research, education and policy reform related to medicinal cannabis. 

The American Nurses Association acknowledged ACNA for “pioneering the cannabis nursing field” and “contributing to the broader landscape of nursing practice and patient care.” 

“We are deeply gratified by the groundbreaking establishment of cannabis nursing as an ANA-recognized nursing specialty,” said in a statement ACNA’s president, Rachel Parmelee. “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,” Parmelee said. 

Parmelee further emphasized that cannabis nursing requires specialized knowledge and competencies to provide care for patients, all while addressing the stigma associated with the medicinal use of cannabis. “We seek to create lasting, transformative change that enriches both specialized and general nursing practices, ultimately serving the well-being of patients nationwide,” she said. 

ANA also voiced its support for “the urgency of clinical research to inform patients on the efficacy of marijuana and related cannabinoids” in its September announcement.  

In a previous statement from 2021, the nation’s largest nurses collective has called for “scientific review of marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance and relisting marijuana as a federal Schedule II controlled substance for purposes of facilitating research.” However, as of last summer, the Health Department has actually recommended relisting cannabis as a Schedule III substance. 

In its other recommendations, ANA has also pointed out the need for developing cannabis prescription standards (such as indications for use, dosing, delivery methods, etc.). ANA’s statement has also called for protecting both patients and care providers from civil or criminal penalties or prosecution because of cannabis. 

Generally speaking, America’s nurses are one of the groups with the highest support for legal cannabis. A survey from 2018, which included 1,054 nurses, showed that 82% supported legalization of medicinal cannabis, and 57% supported recreational use. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

- When Can Medicinal Cannabis Help?

Physicians Lack Knowledge of Medical Marijuana

Health Department Recommends Marijuana Reschedule

Stephen Andrews