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Nursing interventions for medical marijuana

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Ok so here is a lot in information about the legalities of the use of medical cannabis. However, I'm having a hard time finding information about what are the nursing interventions other then patient and family education and patient advocacy. So how do we care for a patient who is prescribed cannabis?

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 41 years experience.

Since it is being prescribed as a medicine , like any other medicine, you teach them about the med itself, it's side effects, possible reactions, not to drive or operate dangerous machinery, and so forth.....as well as the law as it pertains to the prescribing and taking the marijuana to your particular state.

Your treat it like any other controlled substance teaching.

Now the joker in me also want to add that you need to give them the phone numbers to the local restaurants that deliver. :lol2:......Sorry I had to do it.:o

Ok so here is a lot in information about the legalities of the use of medical cannabis. However, I'm having a hard time finding information about what are the nursing interventions other then patient and family education and patient advocacy. So how do we care for a patient who is prescribed cannabis?

Marinol (Dronabinol) is used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in pts who have taken other meds to treat N/V without good results.

It is also used to treat anorexia, weight loss and/or chronic wasting--often seen with pts with AIDs or the elderly. Allegedly, it increases the appetite. Sometimes it works sometimes it does not. The med must be kept in the refrigerator, and it is a soft white colored, round pellet.

Like all meds, they have side effects - you can check on those via the med book or on line (chech the NIH website, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000403/ ).

You may also see the med given with Megace, which is also used to treat weight loss r/t anorexia or chronic wasting. The problem with Megace is the pt needs to be able to ambulate because it can cause blood clotting. If you have a bedbound pt or one with renal disease, then Megace probably will not be used and Marinol instead.

As far as interventions, look at the side effects (if there are any--look it up) to see if you can devise an intervention from that. When is it to be administered, what should the nurse be aware of and what should the nurse teach the pt/family--all can be gathered from the med book or the medication's online info.

Edited by LadyinScrubs

Thank you soooo much on your input! I will explore the side effects ;)

you can find a lot of information in the pdr on reported side effects, but i expect you know that.

as an addition to esme's advice, you might also want to look into exercise and diet to head off side effects of weight gain and sloth.:jester:

guest042302019, BSN, RN

Specializes in Progressive, Intermediate Care, and Stepdown.

First, ask them who is their health care provider and address because you need a prescription yourself for the stress in nursing school. ;) I agree with above. Although, is it Marinol as mentioned above or is it "smoked" medical marijuana. There are respiratory considerations as well. While I'm not aware of any research discussing respiratory effects of smoking medical marijuana, I think we can generally say putting smoke in one's lungs is likely not a good move. Hence, we try to educate tobacco smokers. Anyway, there are many forms of marijuana usage. Baking or capsules to name a couple. Try to encourage pt to try an alternate form aside from smoking it. Otherwise, typical medication teaching. How it works. Why are they taking it. Side effects. Follow up lab work involved. Interactions with other medications or foods (ie grapefruit). Etc. Good luck.

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience.

Marinol and medical marijuana are actually two very different things. You'll find information on marinol in a drug reference but probably not cannabis.

Marinol is purely synthetic THC, the least desirable cannabinoid found in marijuana to use by itself for either therapeutic or recreational purposes, which is why marinol is not widely used and why there is still such a demand for medical marijuana even though marinol is available. Unlike marinol, medical marijuana contains cannabidiol, the cannabinoid responsible for appetite stimulation, anti-nausea, and pain relief properties. In some countries it has also been approved for the treatment of some cancers and schizophrenia. THC (marinol) on the other hand primarily causes psychosis when used alone, particularly without the anti-psychotic effects of cannabidiol to counteract it, and is generally considered to be a thoroughly unpleasant experience, all without any beneficial effects.

An interesting video the difference in effects between the two: