Time and again nurses rank #1 as the most trusted profession in Gallup's annual survey of professions for their honesty and ethical standards. Nurses are the "bedside" healthcare providers who strive to promote health, prevent illness and alleviate suffering. The fundamental principles of nursing are compassion and respect for the individual patient. A key role of the nurse is to act as a patient advocate. Nurses are there for patients when it comes to the issue of medicinal cannabis. The Virginia Nurses Association was the first state nurses association to pass a formal resolution calling for patient access to therapeutic cannabis back in 1994. More states followed and in 2003 the American Nurses Association overwhelmingly passed a strong resolution supporting patient access to cannabis as well as the education of registered nurses on evidence-based research on the efficacy of cannabis as medicine.
With the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, it is becoming more apparent as to why cannabis has so much therapeutic potential and yet has a remarkably wide margin of safety. The endocannabinoid system affects how humans eat, sleep, relax, protect and forget. This system is essential to life and cannabis is the only natural plant that has endocannabinoid-like chemicals called phyto-cannabinoids or simply cannabinoids. While cannabis remains in Schedule I under federal law, more and more states are acknowledging its medicinal value. For those nurses who work in states with medical marijuana/cannabis laws, it is essential that you understand the risks and benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids. For those nurses who work in states where it is illegal it is time for you to become educated on its efficacy and work towards changing the law in your state. For all nurses it is an ethical responsibility to patients to help them gain the option to use cannabis as medicine and thus work towards educating your legislators and policy makers about this safe and effective medicine.
Patients Out of Time provides an accredited biennial conference series on the therapeutic value of cannabis that is especially designed to educate healthcare professionals about this issue as we bring together researchers from around the world to present their current findings.
Nurses in all areas of practice are encouraged to attend the next conference in this series.
Nursing Perspectives from our Conference Faculty Presentation
The California Nurses Association, co-sponsors of our April, 2006 Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics held in Santa Barbara, sent a representative, Bonnie Martin, RN, to speak about the ethics and goals of patient advocacy by the CNA, which stipulate that "Patients should not be forced to suffer pain and suffering...and must be free to seek all therapeutic options"
Nurse Martin goes on, "Unfortunately, one of these therapeutic measures is denied to us as a result of the social stigma and legal environment that has developed around the medical use of marijuana. We must work together to find a solution to this moral/legal conflict, so that neither patients nor providers are criminalized when their only goal is just to make someone's life just livable". Video - CNA Nurses Support Medical Cannabis, Bonnie Martin, RN
At the same 2006 conference, a registered nurse from Oregon, Ed Glick, RN, tells of his efforts to make Oregon's medical marijuana program accessible to more people in need, especially mental health conditions like Post Traumatic Stress. Ed has tried to bridge the healthcare gap for many patients whose doctors are hesitant to recommend medical cannabis. Video - PTS(d), Psychiatric Patients need Cannabis, Ed Glick, RN
Author of Cannabis in Medical Practice and an addiction specialist, Mary Lynn Mathre brings the nurse's perspective to the medical marijuana issue at 2004 Cannabis Therapeutics Conference. Declaring that enough research has been done on Cannabis as medicine to warrant immediate access for patients, Mary Lynn shares the poignant story of Barbra and Kenny Jenks, AIDS victims who were arrested and convicted for medical marijuana. Video - Cannabis - Challenge to Unlearn the Lies, M.L.Mathre, RN, MSN
This book is the collaborative effort of 17 experts from the countries of Brazil, Jamaica, The Netherlands and the United States who tell the story of medical marijuana in layman's language based on facts, scientific inquiry, common sense and compassion. Included are hundreds of references for those who wish to explore the subject of therapeutic Cannabis to a greater depth.