Are nurses permitted to assist a client with taking his or her medical marijuana?
Yes. The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act allows for authorized individuals to possess marijuana for medical purposes. These same regulations allow others (including nurses) to possess the marijuana for the sake of assisting the authorized individual in taking the medical marijuana. Nurses are encouraged to review the ACMPR as, depending on the practice setting, there are limits on the amount of marijuana they can possess. From the stand point of ethical nursing practice, the nurse has a role to facilitate the client’s actions and choices including providing assistance to clients who cannot take their own medical marijuana independently.
For more information about the ACMPR, contact Health Canada's Medical Marihuana Access Program at 1 866-337-7705.
If you practice in a hospital setting, there is an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, that authorizes certain hospital employees, including nurses, to directly administer medical marijuana to clients (as opposed to “assisting”). For more information about this exemption, including the conditions that must be met, please read Health Canada’s Section 56 Class Exemption to Authorize the Conduct of Activities with Cannabis in Hospitals.
When administering any medication to clients, nurses are accountable for adhering to the College’s Medication practice standard. Nurses must ensure that they are able to administer the medication safely, competently and manage the potential outcomes of administering it.
What should nurses consider when caring for clients who require assistance with taking medical marijuana?
Among other factors, nurses must consider whether they have the knowledge, skill and judgment and the authority required to assist a client with taking medical marijuana. For example, an order may be required in some practice settings. Therefore it is important for nurses to know their organizational policy and, if no policies exist, to advocate with their employer for the development of policies. Nurses are encouraged to work with their employer and other members of the health care team to help develop strategies and policies around:
- Documentation, and