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Nurses in the UK have a long history of advocacy for cannabis access. This saw the Royal College of Nursing join the debate into medicinal cannabis access at its 2018 Congress in Belfast, where members debated the potential health benefits of decriminalising cannabis for medicinal purposes. This support added to the weight of evidence which led to the legalisation of medical cannabis in November 2018.

As more patients in the UK access cannabis prescriptions from specialist doctors and clinics, it is increasingly important that nurses become informed about the benefits and risks of cannabis based medicines. In addition, the role of the nurse within the sector is in its infancy when compared to more established cannabis nursing approaches across the world. Developing an approach for medical cannabis care nursing in the UK is therefore a complex and nuanced challenge that requires the sector to collaborate with patients at the centre. We believe nursing colleagues must be at the heart of developing new policy on cannabis nursing and the nurse’s role in order to ensure safe and effective care for patients using this form of treatment.

By joining the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society, nurses and healthcare professionals have access to essential knowledge that can help them understand the complexities of medicinal cannabis prescribing, the range of symptoms and conditions it can be prescribed for, and access tools to support patients using this medicine.

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Expert Nursing Leadership

The Society’s Expert Committee members are recognised as leading experts in their fields, dedicated to opening up access to medical cannabis for every patient in the UK and mentoring and supporting its members. Experts in cannabis work, Eleanor and Sophie are medical cannabis nurse consultants and founders of Nurture Nursing, which aims to educate and empower nurses looking to enter the field of medical cannabis.

Sophie Hayes

Sophie Hayes, Registered Nurse

Sophie has been a leader in the field of medicinal cannabis nursing since 2019, providing her expertise to patient advocacy, prescribing clinics and clinical trials. Her experience includes cannabis nursing and clinic compliance, cannabis medicines in clinical practice, doctor and nurse education, nurse supervision, clinical research, registering services with CQC and conducting clinical outreach.

Eleanor Owen-Jones RN

Eleanor Owen-Jones, Registered Nurse

Eleanor has extensive experience in the cannabis sector, conducting CBMP studies in Oncology, Chronic pain and Neuropathic pain. Additionally, she worked with Canopy Growth as their Medical Science Liaison. Eleanor has presented on cannabis nursing at several conferences, webinars and events.

FAQs for nurses interested in medicinal cannabis

What should UK nurses know about cannabis?

Medical cannabis has been used throughout history to treat a variety of medical conditions, from chronic pain and inflammation to seizures and insomnia. It is something that is increasingly being used in many aspects of medical care.

Legal when prescribed by a specialist doctor, cannabis can be an effective tool for pain management. Many chronic conditions, such as arthritis and cancer, can cause significant pain and discomfort. Medical cannabis can help reduce the associated pain and provide relief from symptoms. It is also being used to treat anxiety, depression, PTSD, sleep issues, insomnia, appetite loss, muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis (MS), nausea caused by chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and more.

Nursing professionals should be aware that medical cannabis is a growing field in the UK and that there are strict regulations around its use. They should also be aware of any potential risks or side effects associated with patient use of cannabis-based therapies, as well as the legal implications of prescribing or administering them. Additionally, nurses should make sure they are up to date on all relevant laws and regulations surrounding the use of medical cannabis and recreational cannabis.

Nurses should be aware that there are different forms of cannabis products available for prescribing or administering to patients. These include oil, capsules, tinctures, topical creams and patches. Different delivery methods can offer a variety of benefits depending on the patient’s needs and preferences.

Why do nurses need to be informed about medical cannabis?

Nurses need to develop an understanding of the benefits and risks of prescribed cannabis and of adult usage of the drug to be able to provide comprehensive care and understanding to your patients.

Nurses should be aware that medical cannabis can interact with other prescription medications, so it is important to discuss all potential drug interactions with each patient. Additionally, nurses should be prepared to answer questions about the legality of cannabis in the UK and how to consume cannabis safely.

It’s also important for nurses to stay up to date on the scientific evidence around medical cannabis, as well as any relevant laws and regulations surrounding its use. This will ensure that they are able to provide safe and effective care for their patients and become informed about cannabis patient advocacy and support services.

Where can nurses specialise in medical cannabis nursing in the UK?

In specialist medical cannabis clinics and in independent clinics in the UK, cannabis nurses have a significant role in follow up consultation and in the evaluation of patient’s treatment plan and its impacts. The nurse must consider patient goals, safety considerations and potential drug interactions, as well as tracking any patient outcomes.

In addition, the cannabis nurse provides education to patients on the safe medicinal use of cannabis and ensure that they are aware of any potential risks or side effects associated with the drug. By providing support and advice without judgement, they can create an encouraging atmosphere for those who rely on cannabis as a form of treatment.

Whilst an NHS nurse working in specialities such as pain, palliative care and oncology may come across cannabis-based medical products in particular, this legal treatment option may be encountered in and healthcare setting.

How can nurses access continuing education on medical cannabis?

Through the Society and the expert leadership, peer support and education, nurses can ensure they are fully informed about this treatment and up to date with current research.  The Society offers accredited continuing education sessions and resources, as well as webinars, national conferences and networking opportunities to help nurses stay up-to-date on the latest developments in medical cannabis. In addition, the Society provides information on cannabis pharmacology, the Endocannabinoid System and holistic approaches to medical cannabis care.

In the UK, Nurture Nursing provides tailored training packages to equip nurses with the skills and knowledge within holistic nursing practice. Internationally, the CannyNurse® Certificate Program is designed exclusively for working nurses and is open to attendees across the globe. The program consists of 12 modules, each taking approximately 4-6 hours per week.

Resources for Nurses

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News, case studies, clinician profiles and patient stories from the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society.

Patient stories

Patient stories

Hear from patients benefiting from medical cannabis treatments in the UK.

Join the MCCS

Join the MCCS

Key reasons to join the MCCS, a supportive network of clinicians growing by the day. Exclusive prescribing information, product details and peer support.

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