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American Nurses Association Acknowledges Therapeutic Use of Cannabis, Calls for Rescheduling

The American Nurses Association recently published a revised position statement, encouraging the federal government to reschedule cannabis to facilitate further research into the substance’s therapeutic potential.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) recently released a position statement, declaring that marijuana and its related cannabinoids are beneficial for treating diseases and alleviating symptoms, and calling for the substance to be rescheduled by the federal government.

“The purpose of this statement is to reiterate the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) support for the review and reclassification of marijuana’s status from a federal Schedule I controlled substances to facilitate urgently needed clinical research to inform patients and providers on the efficacy of marijuana and related cannabinoids,” the published position statement begins.

Despite that 25 states and Washington D.C. have legalized medical marijuana, federally cannabis is still illegal and classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This classification, which is a reserved for substances with no accepted medical use and a high potential or abuse, creates several obstacles that hinder researchers and handicaps the collection of data on the efficacy, safety, and mechanisms of cannabis’ effects on diseases and disorders. Scientists interested in examining cannabis must typically first acquire a Schedule I research license from a state-controlled drug agency and are limited to obtaining cannabis material from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The rescheduling of marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule II controlled substance would facilitate research, the ANA argues, allowing for the “[establishment] of evidence-based standards for the use of marijuana and related cannabinoids.”

“While numerous scholars and organizations have called for an expansion in research, regulatory restrictions have impeded this effort,” the ANA statement reads. “ANA recommends additional scientific research of marijuana and its related cannabinoids in order to guide evidence-based practice for therapeutic use in patients.”

Medical Marijuana Research

The ANA statement also points out that the Schedule I classification of cannabis is inappropriate, as marijuana and its cannabinoids have been historically used to treat disease and alleviate symptoms. At one point, marijuana was even included in the United States Pharmacopeia.

“Marijuana has been used for alleviating symptoms of nausea and vomiting; stimulating appetite in HIV patients; alleviating chronic pain; easing spasticity due to multiple sclerosis; decreasing symptoms of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and psychosis; and relieving intraocular pressure from glaucoma,” the ANA statement reads.

Also among the recommendations from the ANA is the protection from federal prosecution of patients, dispensaries, and health care practitioners that are located in medical marijuana states and are using, recommending, or administering marijuana in accordance with state laws.

Despite cannabis’ federal status, more than 86 percent of Americans live in states that allow some degree of legal marijuana use, either for medical purposes, recreationally, or both. This November, four states – Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota – will vote on legalizing medical marijuana. By the end of the year, the total number of states with medical marijuana laws could be 29.

Just last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it would not be rescheduling marijuana and opted to leave it in Schedule I. At the same time, the DEA said it would still encourage cannabis research by allowing more growers to apply for research-grade cannabis production licenses, but so far medical marijuana researchers haven’t taken the DEA up on its offer.

You can read the entire statement from the American Nurses Association here. Learn more about the medical research that has already been done on the therapeutic promise for cannabis by visiting our Overview of Medical Marijuana Research page.