December 21, 2021
Federal Regulations and Cannabis Nursing
Cannabinoids are federally illegal. The ACNA states nurses should be aware of their state's scope of nursing practice. On their website, the ACNA highlights this disclaimer:
"Nurses must be aware that cannabis and most cannabinoids are federally illegal. They must also be knowledgeable about their state's delineated scope of nursing practice and consider the legal status of cannabis in the given state and community where they practice."
Cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance. It can only be prescribed by a licensed, registered, or certified provider, like a doctor or nurse practitioner, who has the authorization to prescribe controlled substances.
In order to practice within their scope of practice, cannabis nurses should refer to the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) in their state. The MMP is the official legislative resource for the use of medical marijuana in your state.
According to the Journal of Nursing Regulation, when looking up your MMP, search the jurisdiction's website or Department of Health for "medical cannabis program" or "medical marijuana program." Always read the most recent version.
Your MMP will specify:
If you can practice as a cannabis nurse in your state
Your scope of practice
Updates to the MMP
Which cannabidiol products are legal in your state
Thirty-six states and four territories passed legislation legalizing the use of medical cannabis. However, cannabis nurses still may face a negative reputation due to the stigma associated with marijuana...
How to Become a Cannabis Nurse
Since 2017, the ACNA has been working on having nurses become certified through the American Nurses Association (ANA) and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Since there is no existing official certification for cannabis nurses, the ACNA does provide courses and training for interested nurses.
"Courses that offer continuing education credit, like the Cannabis Nurses Network, are excellent ways to receive a 'certificate' in cannabis nursing," says Kandiyoti.
The length of time it takes to enter this career depends on your nursing education background and experience. Online courses, like Advanced Cannabis Science and Therapeutics, are provided by Radicle Health and vary in price. The steps that must be taken to practice in this role are centered around the program and certificate requirements. This may vary by state.
Cannabis nurses pursue a traditional path of becoming a nurse, including:
Earning either an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor's, and perhaps continuing on with a master's (seek accredited nursing programs with cannabis specializations, if available)
Passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
Taking continuing education for nurses to get a certificate that specializes in cannabis nursing