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Are you ready to field questions about cannabis?
Watch this webinar to get caught up on this hot topic
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Cannabis has been a hot topic recently. Its legalization for medicinal and recreational use, safety concerns and its impact on health fuel debate. For nurses, the drug used by patients sparks the need to learn more about how effective it is in helping patients with health conditions, such as seizures, glaucoma, cancer and chronic pain.
Currently, 31 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs, according to the
National Conference on State Legislatures
. But this means several states do not allow for patients’ use of cannabis. Nurses must be able to support patients who use medicinal cannabis, but they must also protect their nursing licenses. The webinar,
“Medicinal Cannabis: What Healthcare Professionals Need to Know,”
helps RNs, APRNs, physicians and other health professionals learn what lies behind the controversy and uncovers the myths surrounding cannabis.
Carey S. Clark, RN
Webinar presenter Carey S. Clark, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, RYT, explains during her presentation how a survey illustrated why it’s so important for nurses to be knowledgeable on the topic.

In a cross-sectional survey of 927 cancer patients published in 2017 in Cancer, “74% of the respondents indicated they wanted information about cannabis from their healthcare providers — that’s you and me and all of us here,” Clark said during the webinar. “But only 15% actually get that info from healthcare providers. And that’s because we haven’t educated ourselves. It’s not included, generally, in our curriculum, so it’s up to us to educate ourselves so we can better support those patients.”
The plant's roots go way back
With 24 years of nursing experience, Clark is the current president of the American Cannabis Nurses Association and a board-certified advanced holistic nurse. “The use of cannabis goes back literally thousands of years,” Clark said while explaining the history behind the use of cannabis. “The Chinese have long recognized that cannabis helps to balance the yin and the yang.” Clark takes participants back to the 1600s, when hemp (the fiber and seed part of the
Cannabis Sativa L.
plant) products were produced openly for personal and commercial use. According to Clark, in 1619 every farmer in Virginia was required to grow hemp, which was used as legal tender in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Her talk goes through the roots of prohibition, the endocannabinoid system, and the discovery of anandamides, a compound cannabinoid that plays a part in reward, mood, appetite, pain relief and reproduction.
Once you understand that the whole entire body is brought into homeostasis through the endocannabinoid system, things begin to make sense.”
— Carey S. Clark, RN

Then, Clark explains the endocannabinoid system, which is the receptor system in the human body that supports homeostasis. The endocannabinoid system controls the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as energy uptake and immune responses, among others. “I think once you understand the endocannabinoid system, hopefully we can begin to move out of wondering, ‘How does this medicine work and how does it seem to almost be like a snake oil? How can it possibly work with seizures, and then also work to maybe help with PTSD symptoms and support patients who are getting chemotherapy?’,” Clark said. “Once you understand that the whole entire body is brought into homeostasis through the endocannabinoid system, things begin to make sense.” Patients with an endocannabinoid deficiency — those who may not make enough cannabinoid — may need to supplement with exogenous cannabinoids like cannabis and other plants, equating its use for such a deficiency as being similar to “the way a diabetic needs insulin supplementation.”
Clark also discusses the dangers of purchasing cannabis on the black market such as:
  • Did they use pesticides or fungicides that were potentially harmful?

  • Has it been contaminated?

  • Was it grown in soil with heavy metals?

The webinar emphasizes the importance that you follow proper protocol and policies when speaking with patients regarding medicinal cannabis.
“As healthcare providers you should know the scope and standard of practice,” she said. “You should know the legal and ethical issues regarding where you live, where you practice and what’s allowable in your state.” Being prepared to answer patients’ questions or know where to get the answers is half the battle when addressing the topic.
Watch the webinar today!
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