Ontario approves prescription of cannabis by nurse practitioners

On April 19, 2017, the Ontario government approved regulations to allow nurse practitioners (NPs) to prescribe controlled substances, including cannabis

On April 19, 2017, the Ontario government approved regulations to allow nurse practitioners (NPs) to prescribe controlled substances, including cannabis. Participating nurse practitioners will be required to complete approved controlled substances education.

Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) allow for ‘health care practitioners to issue medical documents for the use of cannabis for medical purposes, including nurses, but each province and territory has a regulatory body for nurse practitioners that controls these activities.

The various provincial and territorial regulatory bodies have been cautious in allowing cannabis prescriptions. Previously the Ontario governing body had prevented nurse practitioners from prescribing cannabis. Provincial regulatory bodies in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia still say nurse practitioners should not recommend cannabis.

Registered nurses (RNs), different than a nurse practitioner, are not allowed to prescribe cannabis. A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has met additional nursing education, experience and exam requirements set by their respective college.

Last week, the Canadian Nurses Association announced that they welcome the federal government’s new cannabis legalization legislation. The Canadian Nurses Association is the national professional voice representing over 139,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners in Canada.

“We are pleased to see that the new legislation proposed today has a strong emphasis on harm reduction, consistent with recommendations put forward by CNA during the task force’s consultation on the legalization, regulation and restriction of access to marijuana.”

“As components of a balanced and measured approach, the legislation proposes actions to minimize harm to youth, tools for the detection of impaired driving, and features designed to ensure safe and responsible manufacturing practices.”

NPs who complete a medical document authorizing a client to access fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil are expected to use evidence to inform treatment decisions. NPs are also expected to inform clients of unique risks associated with medical marijuana as a result of the variability in composition and potency.

Last year, a Toronto mother whose son suffers from chronic seizures due to a rare genetic condition became frustrated when nurses at the hospital refused to administer cannabis oil to her son.

The Canadian Nurses Association is hosting a seminar in May entitled: Implications for nursing in a changing legal and health-care landscape.

Featured image by Rebecca20162393.

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