The American Nurses Association (ANA) has officially recognized cannabis nursing as a distinct specialty within the field of nursing. This recognition marks a significant milestone in the growing acceptance and integration of cannabis therapies into the healthcare system.
The American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA), which has been at the forefront of advocating for cannabis nursing, defines this specialty as a practice focused on the care of healthcare consumers seeking education and guidance in the therapeutic use of cannabis. Cannabis nurses play a vital role in providing patients with the knowledge and support needed to navigate the complex landscape of medical cannabis.
ANA, as the sole reviewing body of specialty nursing scope of practice and standards, requests for specialty recognition, and affirmation of focused practice competencies, holds considerable authority in shaping the nursing profession. The formal recognition of cannabis nursing as a specialty underscores the importance of this field and the valuable contributions of cannabis nurses to the healthcare system.
Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, President of ANA, expressed the significance of this recognition, stating, “This 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.”
Rachel Parmelee, President of ACNA, expressed deep gratitude for the establishment of cannabis nursing as an ANA-recognized nursing specialty. She emphasized the transformative potential of this recognition, as nurses, being the largest group of health professionals, have a unique opportunity to reshape healthcare by incorporating diverse wellness modalities, including medical cannabis.
“Cannabis nursing requires specialized knowledge and competencies to navigate care and address the stigma associated with medical cannabis use to support a healthy society,” Parmelee stated. “We seek to create lasting, transformative change that enriches both specialized and general nursing practices, ultimately serving the well-being of patients nationwide.”
The ANA also emphasized the importance of clinical research in the cannabis field and the need to inform patients and healthcare providers about the efficacy of marijuana and related cannabinoids. In a 2021 position statement, the organization expressed its support for the review and reclassification of marijuana’s status from a federal Schedule I controlled substance.
This recognition by the American Nurses Association not only validates the role of cannabis nurses but also signifies a significant step forward in the broader acceptance of medical cannabis as a legitimate therapeutic option. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, the specialized expertise of cannabis nurses is poised to play a pivotal role in ensuring the safe and effective use of cannabis-based treatments for patients nationwide.