Written by Eloise Theisen, RN, AGPCNP-BC*
The 4th annual Cannabis Nurse Network Conference(CNNC) was recently convened in San Diego, California (February 28-March 2). As a speaker, I enjoyed many perks such as speaker coaching by Maureen McNamara from Cannabis Trainers, continuing education units and an opportunity to showcase my company, Radicle Health, in the vendor area. The event was well attended with about 150 nurses from all over giving me an opportunity to meet nurses from Texas, North Carolina, Florida and the US Virgin Islands, demonstrating the lengths that nurses will go to in order to lean about cannabis. Attendees were eager to learn as much as they could in the three days of education and demonstration.
Day one featured speakers on a variety of topics. The endocannabinoid system, legal implications, hospice care, opioids and cannabis, medicalization of cannabis, sexual health and drug interactions were some of the areas covered on the first day. The second day consisted of panels with experts who addressed cannabis and trauma, entrepreneurship, nurses working in cannabis dispensaries, opioid harm reduction and cannabis use in children. On day three, nurses participated in a self-care day and then had the chance to tour local dispensaries. The majority of speakers were nurses working in the field of cannabis medicine and this gave others the courage and permission to consider cannabis nursing as a new, up-and-coming field.
In addition to the education, there were networking opportunities throughout the weekend. Day two ended with an awards dinner where nurses were recognized for their work in the cannabis space. The evening ended on the dance floor where attendees had the chance to dance the night away. Overall, the conference was well done and the experience was positive. I look forward to seeing Cannabis Nurse Network grow and build upon the network they have created for cannabis nurses.
As legalization continues to expand and cannabis medicine becomes more acceptable, nurses will be on the front lines caring for the patients who are using it. It is imperative that nurses have a place to learn about cannabis science as well as connect with others who can help them navigate through the complexity of the issue. For too long, patients have been left to figure out cannabis medicine on their own or they have had to seek out advice from non-healthcare professionals. It is time to change the narrative. Cannabis is a science and there is research to support it. Nurses need to be educated on the science so they can do what they do best — educate, advocate and improve quality of life. ❖
*Mary’s Prime Time guest contributor is Eloise Theisen, a nurse practitioner from Walnut Creek, California. She is a co-founder of Radicle Health and president-elect of the American Cannabis Nurses Association(ACNA).