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The American Nurses Association, which represents about 5 million nurses nationwide, has recognized cannabis nursing as a nursing specialty. Cannabis nursing is identified by the American Cannabis Nurses Association as a specialty nursing practice focused on the healthcare of consumers seeking education and guidance in the therapeutic use of cannabis.
ACNA's stated mission is to advance excellence in cannabis nursing practice through advocacy, collaboration, education, research and policy development. The organization's goal is to improve health outcomes by enabling pathways for cannabis education with a focus on compassion and social justice principles.
"ANA is pleased to officially recognize cannabis nursing practice as a nursing specialty," said ANA President Dr. Jennifer Mensik Kennedy. "This recognition highlights the essential role and special contribution of cannabis nurses to the healthcare system and promotes enhanced integration of cannabis therapies for healthcare consumers across diverse healthcare settings."
WHAT'S THE IMPACT
According to ACNA President Rachel Parmelee, nurses comprise the largest group of health professionals. She said this opens up the possibility of shifting the healthcare paradigm to include more "diverse wellness modalities" that go beyond traditional Western medicine.
"Cannabis nursing requires specialized knowledge and competencies to navigate care and address the stigma associated with medical cannabis use to support a healthy society," said Parmalee in a statement. "We seek to create lasting, transformative change that enriches both specialized and general nursing practices, ultimately serving the well-being of patients nationwide."
ACNA said it's committed not only to pioneering the cannabis nursing field, but also to contributing to the broader landscape of nursing practice and patient care.
ANA is the sole reviewing body of specialty nursing scope of practice and standards of practice, requests for specialty recognition, and affirmation of focused practice competencies.
The organization said it supports the urgency of clinical research to inform patients and providers on the efficacy of marijuana and related cannabinoids.
THE LARGER TREND
In an official position, ANA addresses the roles and responsibilities of nurses related to the use of cannabinoids for healthcare, and highlights the potential for cannabinoids to be used in disease treatment and symptom management.
"Marijuana and its derivatives continue to be used to alleviate disease-related symptoms and side effects," the group wrote in the position paper. "The findings of anecdotal and controlled studies regarding the efficacy for patient use are mixed. Current federal regulations impede the research necessary to evaluate and determine the therapeutic use of marijuana and related cannabinoids. This position statement does not extend to the current debate on the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. The goal is to develop an evidence-based approach to its use in the treatment of disease and symptom management."