Can nurses use medical marijuana? - page 2

Does anyone know if medical marijuana in California is an option for a practicing RN? It has been recommended to me from a doctor as an alternative to other medication, but I do not want to risk my license. If I understand the... Read More

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    CA BON action:

    Section 2761 states, in pertinent part: "The board may take disciplinary action against a certified or licensed nurse ... for any ofthe following: "(a) Unprofessional conduct, which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

    "(d) Violating or attempting to violate, directly or indirectly, or assisting in or abetting the violating of, or conspiring to violate any provision or term oft his chapter or regulations adopted pursuant to it."

    10: Code section-2762 states, in pertinent part: "In addition to other acts constituting unprofessional conduct within the meaning ofthis chapter [the Nursing Practice Act], it is unprofessional conduct for a person licensed under this chapter to do any of the following: ...
    (a) Obtain or possess in violation o flaw, or prescribe, or except as directed by a licensed physician and surgeon, dentist, or podiatrist administer to himself or herself, or furnish or administer to another, any controlled substance as defined in Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) ofthe Health and Safety Code or any dangerous drug or dangerous device as def
    med in Section 4022. (b) Use any controlled substance as dev

    fmed in Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code, or any dangerous drug or dangerous device as defmed in Section 4022, or alcoholic beverages, to an extent or in a manner dangerous or injurious to himself or herself, any other person, or the public or to the extent that such use impairs his or her ability to conduct with safety to the public the, practice authorized by his or her license"

    http://www.rn.ca.gov/public/rn572369.pdf
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Dec 13, '14
    toomuchbaloney and Meriwhen like this.

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    Do you have the same concerns for nurses who take sleeping pills, pain medication, anxiolytics or other medications? Just curious.
    SmithRNclassof97, ktwlpn, Rob72, and 2 others like this.
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    Quote from Meriwhen
    With all due respect to the OP...IMO, if someone's health has declined to the point that they are prescribed medical marijuana, then they are probably not healthy enough to be successfully working as a nurse. I don't know why you were suggested it nor do I want to know. Nor will I pass judgment on you should you decide to use it and pursue working as a nurse...though I still stand by my stated concern.

    To answer your questions: the only way you'd know for certain about whether your license is at risk is to contact the CA BRN and ask them. You can write them anonymously if you want--sign up for a free e-mail account with Gmail and don't use your name. They will answer back.

    Also, keep in mind that having a valid prescription is not bulletproof protection against disciplinary action. Even if the BRN should be OK with it, your employer may decide that the risks of your working with THC in your system--even if it's prescribed, if you don't use it at work, don't show up to work impaired, etc.--may outweigh the benefit of having you as an employee. People have been fired for testing positive for prescribed substances because of company policy. So after you check with the CA BRN, the next place you'd have to check with is the employer.

    And the prior poster is right: THC can be present in your system for nearly a month after use. If you take medical marijuana on a regular basis, it's almost certain that you will never have a clean urine.

    Best of luck with your health and whatever you decide.
    What kind of horrible profession do we work in? How healthy does a person need to be to work as a nurse? I have heard this a lot over the 25 years that I have worked in health care. Are we supposed to be athletes? They they need to pay us like 25 million a year so after we work our buts off and ruin our health for our job we can at least enjoy early retirement. I won't tell you what I think of you as a person because that would be rude. But I don't wish good health to you and I wonder how you treat your patients. Sounds like nurses have the least amount of compassion of all.
    SmilingBluEyes likes this.
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    Quote from inforn43
    What kind of horrible profession do we work in? How healthy does a person need to be to work as a nurse? I have heard this a lot over the 25 years that I have worked in health care. Are we supposed to be athletes? They they need to pay us like 25 million a year so after we work our buts off and ruin our health for our job we can at least enjoy early retirement. I won't tell you what I think of you as a person because that would be rude. But I don't wish good health to you and I wonder how you treat your patients. Sounds like nurses have the least amount of compassion of all.
    I think it would be more uncompassionate for me to give someone false hope about being able to use marijuana and continue working as a nurse.

    Just telling you how it is. Even here in CA, where 4/20 is practically a state holiday and you can't swing a cat without hitting a head shop, many employers frown upon their employees using marijuana. Healthcare organizations are especially hard on drug use in their employees, and you can and will be fired for failing a test. In some cases you can be fired even if you hold a valid prescription for a legitimate drug that shows up in the UDS. I agree, it's not always fair, but I don't make the rules.

    FYI, a medical marijuana card isn't a prescription, as Schedule I medications can not be prescribed. The use of marijuana can only be recommended by a healthcare provider, and a medical MJ card only helps its owner avoid possession charges. It doesn't protect the owner against the ramifications of popping positive. And employers do wonder about the health--physical and mental--of an employee who has such a card.

    And if you think I'm unfeeling, the BRN makes me look like a cuddle-bunny. Since my last post in this thread, I had the opportunity to sit in on BRN presentations concerning impaired nursing and can tell you that nurses with medical marijuana cards are very rarely afforded any special privileges or consideration. In fact, they're pretty hard-line about any drug abuse, legal or illegal. If you're lucky (key word), you may end up in a diversion program for which you and not the BRN will foot the bill for, and if you are lucky (again, key word) to meet all their stipulations and complete it, you might emerge with your license intact.

    Otherwise you're the owner of a disciplined license--if they let you keep it, that is--in an over-saturated job market. And because of this over-saturated job market, the nurse with any discipline on their license is at a severe disadvantage. An applicant with a clean record or an applicant with BRN discipline for drug abuse...who do you think the employer is more likely to go with? Again, not always fair, but the employers have the upper hand as long as there is a surplus of nurses seeking work.

    That's the reality, whether you or I or anyone likes it. And if you feel I'm uncompassionate for reminding someone about reality instead of taking the hearts-and-flowers view that you were hoping for, so be it. Though IMO, it would be far crueler of me to mislead someone and then let them be smacked alongside the head by an employer or BRN.
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    I would definitely check with the BRN before using medical marijuana and accepting a patient assignment. A nurse impaired by other prescription medications may have his or her license jeopardized if an error is reported.

    I know of one RN who used it for chemotherapy side effects, but didn't work during that time. She had previously notified the board. I'm told she returned to work.

    Here is a link to disciplinary actions regarding medical marijuana:
    Board of Registered Nursing

    I suggest writing or email because the phone is very busy
    Board of Registered Nursing
    P.O. Box 944210
    Sacramento, CA 94244-2100
    Licensee Services & General Information
    For questions regarding license renewal, license verification, RN name and address changes, continuing education, and all other inquiries.
    Main Phone: (916) 322-3350
    Email: Renewals.BRN@dca.ca.gov
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    Quote from inforn43
    What kind of horrible profession do we work in? ...Sounds like nurses have the least amount of compassion of all.
    No, we have responsible professional judgement. I would second mystcnurse's comment, regarding other theraputic meds used by nurses. Medical MJ is not some mystic, happy panacea. It is impairing(no less so than take-your-pick-of-narcotics) and it is controlled. The DOT and FAA have thresholds (which are actually fairly liberal) and medical MJ will in most cases cause one to exceed the safety standard. Your facility and State BoN may have different standards, but I would not be optimistic.

    Never confuse "feel-good" with safe practice.
    Not_A_Hat_Person, AmyRN303, Meriwhen, and 1 other like this.
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    I have Multiple Sclerosis and experience chronic pain and fatigue.Meriwhen was right in my case. I came to the point I could not practice any longer due to the disease. I have read many articles about medical marijuana relieving pain and muscle spasms. I don't live in a state where it is legal so I have no idea if it would help me or not.....I do understand the need for relief from chronic illness. It is truly life changing.
    toomuchbaloney and herring_RN like this.
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    Good question, if it's for migraines, I'd say find an alternative, if it's for cancer, HIV or severe chronic pain, then as Sun0408 has mentioned, you have to consider if you're ill enough that maybe you shouldn't be practicing until you get a handle on your illness.
    Meriwhen, herring_RN, and caliotter3 like this.
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    I was wondering the same thing recently. I have horrible anxiety and wondered if I should get a medical card, but started reading more about nurses and medical mj and found out that even in states where it's legal you can lose your license. I'm not willing to risk that.
    herring_RN likes this.
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    Quote from Rob72
    No, we have responsible professional judgement. I would second mystcnurse's comment, regarding other theraputic meds used by nurses. Medical MJ is not some mystic, happy panacea. It is impairing(no less so than take-your-pick-of-narcotics) and it is controlled. The DOT and FAA have thresholds (which are actually fairly liberal) and medical MJ will in most cases cause one to exceed the safety standard. Your facility and State BoN may have different standards, but I would not be optimistic.

    Never confuse "feel-good" with safe practice.
    How is a hit or two at bedtime as a sleep aide and treatment for chronic pain going to impair me in the morning? I have taken cold medicine that made me miserable the next day. MJ has a comparatively short half life (ETOH is much longer) It will be interesting to see how this evolves.


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