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What Does A Cannabis Nurse Do?
The US is gradually relaxing its stance on medical cannabis, creating a need for dedicated healthcare professionals who can help patients with their medicinal marijuana use.
Cannabis nursing, also known as dispensary nursing, is a relatively new field, but it's an important one.
What Does a Cannabis Nurse Do?
Cannabis nursing promotes wellness in the field of medicinal marijuana. The role of a cannabis nurse is to educate patients and assist them with their care needs. They are advocates and educators, as well as nurses.
According to the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA), a Registered Nurse (RN) or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) must adhere to the following steps when assisting a patient using medical marijuana:
- Assessment : The cannabis nurse assesses the family unit, gathers historic data, reviews, records, and establishes a relationship with the patient.
- Diagnosis : The cannabis nurse considers the holistic needs of the patient and identifies any issues that might qualify them for a medical marijuana prescription, as governed by state laws.
- Identify Outcomes : The cannabis nurse identifies outcomes based on the patient's needs, as well as their current situation. They must also weigh up the risks and rewards related to achieving those outcomes.
- Planning : The cannabis nurse creates a plan that can help the patient to attain the desired outcomes.
- Implementation : The nurse supports the patient as they implement the plan. They should also partner with the patient's family to ensure the plan is implemented in a way that benefits everyone.
- Evaluation : Progress is evaluated to determine whether or not the desired outcomes will be achieved.
- Ethics : The cannabis nurse must be ethical in all of their endeavors. The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements will guide them and the ACNA also has a number of insights.
- Culturally Congruent Practice: The nurse must practice in a manner that is congruent with cultural diversity, ensuring that no one is excluded because of their gender, race, religion, or preferences.
- Communication : By assessing their own communication skills, the cannabis nurse should aim to treat the patient with utmost respect and trust.
- Collaboration : Parents and loved ones play a key role in the patient's treatment and should be included in the process. The nurse is also expected to work closely with clinicians.
- Leadership : The nurse should position themselves as a leader and contribute to further education and learnings within the medical cannabis sector.
- Education : Cannabis nurses are required to maintain a high level of understanding and must seek to educate themselves on the latest treatment methods, studies, and relevant discoveries.
- Evidence-Based Research and Practice: Medical professionals should always follow the latest cannabis-based research and seek to apply these discoveries whenever they can.
- Quality of Practice: Via recommendations, data collection, and documentation, the nurse should seek to improve the field for themselves, their patients, and other healthcare professionals.
- Professional Practice Evaluation : The dispensary nurse should engage in regular self-evaluation and seek informal evaluation to assess their performance and the performances of other cannabis nurses.
- Resource Utilization: Cannabis nurses should use all of the resources at their disposal to plan and provide adequate care.
- Environmental Health: Cannabis nurses are expected to maintain a safe and secure environment for their patients, colleagues, and themselves.
Where Do Cannabis Nurses Work?
Many cannabis nurses work in dispensaries, where they can advise patients on treatments and drug interactions, as well as everything that is required of them by the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA).
They may also work as health education consultants and even as cultivators, testers, and producers. Take a look at our section "Where Can You Practice as a Cannabis Nurse" below for more information.
How Can I Become a Dispensary Nurse?
The first step to becoming a cannabis nurse is to acquire a nursing license. You can become a cannabis nurse as a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Nurse Practitioner (NP), and more.
Once you have your license, you can apply for an education in cannabis therapeutics.
The ACNA's cannabis courses are the best place to start and will give you the education that you need to progress. As things stand, there is no official certification for cannabis nurses and there are also a lot of scam courses out there, so if one of them offers an official certification, be wary.
That might change in the future, though. There are currently plans in place to officially certify cannabis nurses, and we should see some progress toward such an outcome in the next few years.
What Do You Need to Know?
Cannabis nurses are experts in the medicinal benefits of cannabis and understand how it can be used to treat everything from chronic pain to eye problems and psychological issues. They should understand what herbal cannabis products can help their patients and should also be knowledgeable in the following:
- Drug Interactions
- Drug Administration
- The Endocannabinoid System
- Cannabinoids and Terpenoids
- Advocacy and Ethics
- Cannabis Law
What are the Benefits to Being a Cannabis Nurse?
The legal complexities surrounding the use of cannabis can complicate matters for cannabis nurses. However, it's a field that's on the rise. More patients are being prescribed medical marijuana and it is being legalized in more states.
There is already a nursing shortage in the USA and that is expected to continue for at least another decade. As a result, cannabis nurses could be some of the most in-demand nurses within the next few years.
The pay is very good, too, and that will likely increase along with the demand.
Furthermore, dispensary nurses get to be part of an exciting revolution in medical marijuana. There are an array of medical uses for cannabis, including in the treatment of chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and migraines, to name just a few. As more studies are conducted on the plant and our knowledge of cannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBG, and CBN increases, we'll likely see many more medical conditions added to that list.
Nurses are passionate about helping people. It's why they do what they do. And as cannabis is being hailed as a breakthrough drug in the treatment of many conditions, its application will excite healthcare professionals.
Whether you're a proponent or a user of cannabis, or you're just interested in how it is applied and where this industry is heading, cannabis nursing could be perfect for you.
How Much Does a Dispensary Nurse Make?
The average salary for cannabis nurses varies based on your experience level, but your location also plays a role. The difference between one state and the next could be thousands of dollars.
NCSBN Guidelines for Cannabis Nursing
According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), nurses need practical information when using cannabis therapeutics. Its Six Principles of Essential Knowledge guidelines require that nurses have the following:
- A complete and up-to-date knowledge concerning the latest cannabis laws in the United States.
- A working knowledge of the medical cannabis programs within their jurisdiction.
- A complete understanding of the endocannabinoid system.
- Knowledge of cannabis pharmacology and the latest research regarding cannabis treatments.
- An understanding of the safety considerations.
- An ability to act without prejudice regarding the patient's treatment choices.
Where Can You Practice in the US as a Cannabis Nurse?
Most cannabis nurses work in marijuana clinics. You are required to be certified and registered, and you must also abide by the state laws.
In states where cannabis is completely legal, you can sell it for recreational or medicinal use and act in an advisory capacity. In states where it is restricted for medicinal use, you may be able to act as a provider if you are a Nurse Practitioner. The rules change from state to state, though, and they are also being tweaked all of the time, so this is something you should check in advance.
Other options for cannabis nurses include:
- The sale of CBD oil and CBG oil
- An educator on the therapeutic potential of cannabis
- A marijuana grower/producer
- Cannabis/CBD cooking
- Cannabis/hemp growing
Job Outlook For Cannabis Nurses
The medicinal marijuana sector is changing at a rapid pace, and the same is true for low-THC compounds like CBD and CBG, which exploded in popularity following the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill.
There has never been a better time to get involved with commercial cannabis and hemp, and as the laws continue to change and these products are more widely embraced, the outlook will improve even further.
Nursing in general offers some fantastic opportunities, and experts anticipate that the demand for qualified nurses will continue for many years. Once you add a new and exciting treatment like cannabis into the mix, it creates even more possibilities.
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