The Formal Designation of Cannabis as a Specialty Practice Area by the American Nurses Association

The Formal Designation of Cannabis as a Specialty Practice Area by the American Nurses Association

The American Nurses Association (ANA) has recently made a significant announcement regarding the recognition of cannabis as a nursing specialty practice area. This decision reflects the growing acceptance and integration of marijuana into healthcare practices and highlights the important role that cannabis nurses play in educating and guiding patients on incorporating cannabis into their treatment plans.

As a professional organization representing over 5 million nurses in the United States, the ANA is considered the sole reviewing body of specialty nursing scope of practice and standards of practice. Their recognition of cannabis nursing as a specialty practice area emphasizes its essential role and contribution to the healthcare system.

According to ANA President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, this recognition promotes the enhanced integration of cannabis therapies for healthcare consumers across diverse healthcare settings. Cannabis nurses possess specialized knowledge and competencies that are necessary to navigate care and address the stigma associated with medical cannabis use. By acknowledging these specialized skills, the ANA aims to support a healthy society and create lasting transformative change that enriches both specialized and general nursing practices.

The ANA also acknowledged the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA), a separate group advocating for research, education, and policy reform around medical marijuana. The ACNA is credited with pioneering the cannabis nursing field and contributing to nursing practice and patient care at large. The president of ACNA, Rachel Parmelee, expressed deep gratification by this groundbreaking establishment of cannabis nursing as an ANA-recognized nursing specialty.

The ANA’s announcement also highlighted their support for clinical research on the efficacy of marijuana and related cannabinoids. They emphasized the need for marijuana to be reclassified as a federal Schedule II controlled substance to facilitate research. Additionally, they called for the development of evidence-based standards for dosing and use, protection of patients from civil or criminal penalties for marijuana use, and exemption of healthcare providers from legal repercussions for discussing or recommending marijuana.

It is worth noting that nurses have generally been supportive of legalizing marijuana in America. A survey conducted in 2018 reported that 82% of nurses endorsed legalizing medical marijuana, while 57% supported legalization for adult use. This aligns with the growing acceptance and recognition of the therapeutic potential of cannabis in healthcare.

Despite the expansion of cannabis research in recent years, significant obstacles remain due to marijuana’s Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Multiple federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), participated in a discussion about marijuana research barriers. These discussions aimed to address efforts to create a regulated pathway for CBD, state initiatives promoting social equity, and the challenges faced by scientists wanting to research marijuana.

In conclusion, the American Nurses Association’s formal recognition of cannabis as a nursing specialty practice area reflects the evolving landscape of healthcare. By acknowledging the specialized knowledge and competencies required for cannabis nursing, the ANA aims to promote enhanced integration of cannabis therapies across diverse healthcare settings. This recognition not only supports patient care but also contributes to broader nursing practice and ultimately serves the well-being of patients nationwide.

Dr. Paul Miller, MD

Dr. Miller is committed to finding new and innovative ways to help his patients manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. He has a particular interest in the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis and is passionate about educating both his colleagues and patients on its safe and effective use. He is also committed to continuing his education and staying up-to-date on the latest advances in neurology and cannabis research.

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