Australian Cannabis Nurses Association launches to educate, advocate for medicinal cannabis

A newly formed group with a vision to offer medicinal cannabis education, advocacy and peer support to nurses has launched this week.

Nurse practitioner and medicinal cannabis prescriber, Simone O’Brien, will lead the Australian Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) alongside co-founders Deb Ranson and Jodie Davis.

“There’s misinformation about cannabis with clinicians,” Ms O’Brien said.

“We are very keen to decrease the stigma.”

The group wants education about the endocannabinoid system included in undergraduate nursing degrees.

This week marks seven years since the Federal Parliament passed legislation to legalise medicinal cannabis in Australia.

Most cannabis medications are classified as unapproved therapies, which means permission is required from the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) before a prescription is issued.

Since 2016, the number of prescriptions has skyrocketed from just a handful to well over 100,000 last year.

More training needed

Ms O’Brien first became interested in medicinal cannabis after an accident in 2019 left her with a “really nasty break” in her leg.

During months off work and in rehab, she looked into whether medicinal cannabis could work for her.

“It was just amazing for my pain,” Ms O’Brien said.

A nurse in blue scrubs in a clinical room
Simone O’Brien returned to work after her injury.(Supplied: Simone O’Brien)

“I thought I’m going to start prescribing it as well because it’s a really valid option for people who have chronic pain.”

Ms O’Brien said the ACNA would offer medicinal cannabis training for nurses at all levels.

They will also offer peer support for nurses and advocate for better patient access.

“A lot of patients will go and speak to their health providers, whether that’s a GP, a psychologist, psychiatrists, and they say, ‘No, cannabis won’t suit you’,” she said.

“We want to get the word out that this is a very safe medicine and it’s applicable across a whole lot of different patient populations.”

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