This year’s American Cannabis Nurses Association Virtual Conference was a resounding success! Cannabis nurses of all levels, including student nurses, LPNs, RNs, and NPs gathered together for three days online to advance the group’s mission: “To advance excellence in cannabis nursing practice through advocacy, collaboration, education, research, and policy development.”
As a Cannabis NP who came to nursing as a second career, I have long struggled with medical hierarchy and narrow-minded, “old school” medical professionals. The ACNA is a group of supportive, enthusiastic, and open-minded nurses dedicated to providing safe patient care and advancing cannabis medicine. We volunteer throughout the year on projects such as:
• credentialing (creating a scope and standard of practice for cannabis nurses and cannabis NPs)
• policy change at local, state, and federal levels
• increasing awareness of social and racial inequities in health and in cannabis reform
• including cannabis and endocannabinoidology education in nursing programs
I was a member of the conference planning committee this year, and we met biweekly for most of the year, then weekly as the conference dates neared.
We gathered together as a group to kick off the conference for the ANCA Annual Membership Meeting and Awards Ceremony and fun virtual networking with cannabis trivia, prizes, and small group breakout session discussions. Our current President, Eloise Theisen, delivered a moving welcome to the conference, reviewing the wild events of the last year as background to where we are now as an organization. There were several other General Sessions, “Spirituality as the ROOT of Cannabis Care” by Green Nurses Sherri Tutkus and Mark Worster, “Limiting Liability in Cannabis Nursing” with the lawyers from Vermont Cannabis Solutions, and two keynote addresses.
Our first keynote speaker this year was Alice O’Leary Randall, LPN, who has long been a cannabis medicine advocate. Alice and her husband, Robert C. Randall, were first arrested in 1975 for growing cannabis after he learned that it helped treat his medication-resistant glaucoma. Robert was one of the first medical cannabis activists and became the first official medical cannabis patient to receive a supply of cannabis from the government! Alice shared their exciting and touching story with us and called on us to continue the actions they initiated to protect medical cannabis patients. There wasn’t a dry eye in the virtual house during her speech. You can learn more about Alice and her story at her website https://aliceolearyrandall.com
Our second keynote speaker was Dr. Rachel Knox, MD, Endocannabinologist and Cannabinoid Medicine Specialist and cannabis health equity policy reform expert. Dr Knox delivered a powerful presentation entitled “Health Equity: The True North of Cannabis Legalization.” She reviewed the history of cannabis prohibition and reform and the impacts of cannabis prohibition on people of color which have contributed to the Minority Health Disparity Gap. She concluded by sharing her latest project, The Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM), “a professional medical association for BIPOC [Black and Indigenous People of Color] licensed medical professionals and students active or interested in cannabis medicine” (https://achemed.org). ACHEM has a Holiday Health Equity Campaign that is accepting donations at https://www.gofundme.com/f/achem?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1.
There were many fantastic presentations from our talented members. The presentations were generally divided in the following tracks: Cannabis Supply Chain Safety Considerations, Testing and Policy, Clinical Applications, Technology, Cannabis & Sex, End of Life, Nurse Coaching, Advocacy, Case Studies, and the ECS. It was hard to choose which to attend, but great to know that as an attendee I will have access to the recordings and additional bonus content for the next month.
I urge cannabis nurses of all levels to check out the ACNA at https://www.cannabisnurses.org. We are a welcoming and encouraging group of passionate and caring nursing professionals from all walks of life and educational levels. We are united in our determination “to advance excellence in cannabis nursing practice through advocacy, collaboration, education, research, and policy development.” Please feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions!