Caring for Patients Who Are Prescribed Medical Marijuana

Caring for Patients Who Are Prescribed Medical Marijuana

June 25, 20192 min read

With more than $10 billion in legal sales of marijuana in the United States in 2018, there’s a need to educate healthcare practitioners about how to safely treat and manage patients who are prescribed medical marijuana.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, cannabis-based products such as man-made cannabinoid-based medications may help prevent and ease nausea caused by chemotherapy. And for adults with multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms, short-term use of some man-made and cannabinoid-based medications may improve their symptoms.

"Providing care for patients who use medical marijuana is a responsibility all healthcare providers share, and it is therefore imperative to encourage communication between all providers and the patient," says Evelyn Lengetti, PhD, RN, NPD-BC, Assistant Dean of the Continuing Education Program at Villanova’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.

To the best of her knowledge, Dr. Lengetti was the first in the Philadelphia area to host a day-long conference open to nurses, doctors, nutritionists, social workers, lawyers and pharmacists to educate them so they would have a working knowledge of what to expect when patients in their care started using medical marijuana.

"Healthcare providers need to have some knowledge of medical marijuana when treating this population of patients," Dr. Lengetti says. "They need to know that cannabis is not FDA approved for any condition and that it is for investigational use only."

Dr. Lengetti notes that it's beneficial for healthcare providers to know the different types of cannabis, possible side effects, nutritional challenges, and legal issues that may arise while providing care to patients who have been certified to use cannabis products.

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