Historic Milestone: American Nurses Association Recognizes Cannabis Nursing as a Specialized Practice

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The ANA has formally announced their recognition of cannabis nursing as a specialty nursing practice.

A recent win for the medical cannabis industry was provided by the American Nurses Association (ANA), which represents “the interests of the nation’s more than 5 million nurses” (1), when the organization announced in a September 27 press release their official recognition of cannabis nursing as a specialty nursing practice.

“ANA is pleased to officially recognize cannabis nursing practice as a nursing specialty,” said ANA President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN (1). “This recognition highlights the essential role and special contribution of cannabis nurses to the health care system and promotes enhanced integration of cannabis therapies for health care consumers across diverse health care settings.”

The American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA), a national institution that works on education, collaboration, advocacy, policy development and research within the nursing community (1), has also identified cannabis nursing “as a specialty nursing practice focused on the care of health care consumers seeking education and guidance in the therapeutic use of cannabis,” (1).

“We are deeply gratified by the groundbreaking establishment of cannabis nursing as an ANA-recognized nursing specialty. Nurses are the largest group of health professionals, providing an opportunity to change the health care paradigm and include diverse wellness modalities beyond traditional Western medicine. Cannabis nursing requires specialized knowledge and competencies to navigate care and address the stigma associated with medical cannabis use to support a healthy society. We seek to create lasting, transformative change that enriches both specialized and general nursing practices, ultimately serving the well-being of patients nationwide,” ACNA President Rachel Parmelee MSN, RN, CNE, AHN-BC, commented (1).


ACNA is dedicated to advancing the cannabis nursing sector, nursing practice, and patient care. ANA has been the reviewing association for specialty nursing, standards of practice, focused practice competencies, and specialty recognition requests.

Through ANA’s official recognition, this showcases their support for cannabis as a medicine for patients and as a form of treatment healthcare providers can recommend.

Healthcare professionals who have already been advocating for cannabis as a medicine for patients are thrilled with ANA’s statement. Dawn-Marie Steenstra, a Clinical Director of Dispensaries in Maryland, and a co-founder for the National Clinical Director Consortium, is excited for this change (2,3). “In many specialties of practice, we have Nurse Navigators—a term coined by Nurse Nique’ Pichette DNP, MSN, RN as a title for nurses who specifically work as patient advocates in different disciplines such as cancer and oncology, diabetic, cardiac, pulmonary, integrative health, and more," said Steenstra, who has been a bedside and community nurse for 26 years. "I suspect cannabis nursing will be utilized in hospitals and inpatient settings to help patients in their treatment plans, guidance in dispensaries or assisting in education with doctors and recommending physicians moving forward. My true wish is that all dispensaries will have a Cannabis Nurse Navigator available for consultation with patients much like we do currently with the National Clinical Director Consortium members, which is a multidisciplinary group of doctors, pharmacist, and nurses."

Nurse Laura Barrett-Nutting, Executive Director of the National Clinical Directors Consortium and Owner of Ask Nurse Laura, chimed in on the news and mentioned that, "The first and most important way, I see ANA's acceptance of cannabis nursing as a specialty is that it legitimizes the nurses that have been working in this space for years. We have read the research; we have done the clinical practice, and we know or know how cannabis and another plant medicines are helping our patients. Secondly, and I speak to my own experience, this news gives nurses who have been working in a more traditional field an opportunity to serve their purpose and feel like they are improving patients’ lives every day. With so much burnout in many areas of traditional nursing, we need an opportunity to make a lasting difference in the health and wellbeing of the patients we serve."

As the news about cannabis nursing being officially recognized by the ANA spreads throughout the cannabis industry, this will surely open some doors for medical patients and healthcare practitioners.

"I hope the approval of Cannabis Nursing as a specialty by ANA will help nurses, particularly those who like me were afraid to learn about cannabis, to consider taking some classes, doing some research, and learning ways to encourage open communication about cannabis with our patients and peers," Barrett-Nutting added.

To hear more from Dawn-Marie Steenstra about the role of Clinical Directors, watch our interview about her presentation in the Medical Track of the Cannabis Science Conference.

To listen to Nurse Laura's interview on her panel presentation at CSC Fall 2023, watch our interview about her panel discussion.


  1. ANA Officially Recognizes Cannabis Nursing as a Specialty Nursing Practice (accessed Sep 29, 2023).
  2. L’Heureux, M. Meet the Cannabis Science Conference Fall Speakers: Dawn-Marie Steenstra on Medical Cannabis Patient Advocacy (accessed Sep 29, 2023).
  3. L’Heureux, M. Cannabis Science Conference Fall Coverage: Dawn-Marie Steenstra on Clinical Directors in the Medical Track (accessed Sep 29, 2023).