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Nurses to receive renewed support with launch of cannabis association

A new group is launching this week to plug the cannabis knowledge gap among nurses as interest grows around the medicine and the role it can play in patient care.

The Australian Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) will be led by nurse practitioner Simone O’Brien who has been working on the launch with the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Association (ACMA).

O’Brien told Cannabiz that while prescribers and practitioners have resources they can turn to, little is provided by way of training for nurses, even though they are encountering cannabis on an increasingly regular basis and have an essential front-line role in patient care.  Buy Weed Online Australia, Buy Cannabis Online Australia

Among the resources will be a course developed with the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, with the endocannabinoid system among the topics covered.

“We’ve been getting numerous emails and phone calls from nurses wanting support and avenues to get into the cannabis industry and to work as cannabis nurses,” O’Brien said.

The body of our work will be targeting registered and enrolled nurses around their role in managing cannabis, whether that’s in a hospital or home environment.

“We don’t feel that nurses and care workers – who are working with patients in their homes and in hospitals and who are encountering medical cannabis – have sufficient knowledge. Often they tell us, ‘we don’t know what CBD is, we don’t know what THC is’.

“We want to tap into that workforce and get them better educated.”

O’Brien, a nurse practitioner who managed her own pain with cannabis following a 2019 accident, insisted nurses have a “huge role” in furthering the awareness and therapeutic benefits that cannabis can provide.

“There is the potential for registered nurses to complete an initial assessment, to assess patients throughout their cannabis journey, to evaluate them and monitor how the cannabis is working,” she said.

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Nurses may be required to administer cannabis in hospitals or in homes so they need to know how it works as a medicine.

“Those working in disability may also come across it, as may nurses working in aged care. What we’re hearing is that there’s nothing they can access about the laws around it and how nurses can incorporate it into their practice.”

Another major role nurses can play is in advocating for the use of medicinal cannabis with doctors who are reluctant to prescribe or who don’t understand it.

O’Brien said rising interest in cannabis medicine among nurses is partly a natural progression. But patients, too, are seeking alternative therapy to manage pain.

Some are turning away from conventional medicines manufactured by ‘big pharma’ because of the potential side effects, she added.

“A lot of patients do not like some of the medications they use for PTSD and anxiety because they perceive that it makes them feel ill, it blunts them, takes away their sex drive and things like that,” O’Brien said.

“They want quality of life and people are increasingly looking towards cannabinoids and plant-based medicines more generally to achieve that. I see that consistently.”

Subscriptions to ACNA will cost A$50 per year, which also includes membership of AMCA along with discounted tickets for the United in Compassion symposium which last year opened with a one-day nurses’ conference.

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