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A nurse practitioner (NP) is a primary care professional who can perform many of the same duties as a physician, including assessing patient needs and formulation of treatment plans. But can a nurse practitioner prescribe medical marijuana?
Learn about how medical marijuana is recommended rather than prescribed to understand how your nurse practitioner may be able to help you access the therapeutic benefits of the plant.
What Is a Nurse Practitioner?
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a healthcare professional with an advanced level of education. Similar to a physician assistant, a nurse practitioner is qualified to prescribe medications. In fact, NPs are permitted to perform most tasks that a physician would, with the exception of surgical procedures. Nurse practitioners may also be classified as “advanced registered nurse practitioners” (ARNPs).
In some busy medical practices, scheduling an appointment with a nurse practitioner rather than a physician may be more expedient. Some patients prefer to speak to a doctor, which is one reason why your NP may have more open appointment windows.
How Is Medical Marijuana Prescribed?
First and foremost, medical marijuana is not prescribed the way other drugs are. Rather, patients receive a recommendation from their healthcare provider. The reason that marijuana cannot be prescribed is its classification as a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level.
Controlled substances like marijuana are not eligible for prescribing under current medical laws. Instead, your nurse practitioner may recommend medical marijuana as a suitable course of treatment for you. Your nurse practitioner may also recommend a particular ingestion method (like topicals or sublingual tinctures) as well as provide dosage guidelines. From there, you would use this recommendation when applying for a medical marijuana card in your state.
In order to receive a certification for medical cannabis, patients generally need to present with one or more qualifying conditions. These conditions vary from state to state, but some common ones include:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Anxiety and Depression
- Chronic Pain
- Irritable Bowel Diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s Disease
The above is just a sampling of conditions that qualify in many states for a medical marijuana recommendation. Check the latest laws and regulations in your home state for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Can I Get a Recommendation for Marijuana from a Nurse Practitioner?
In some states, you may be able to meet with a nurse practitioner and obtain a medical marijuana recommendation if you are diagnosed with a qualifying condition. Some states will allow for telemedicine appointments to take place online, while others have not yet approved this form of patient-to-provider interaction.
In most cases, medical professionals will first need to complete specific coursework pertaining to medical marijuana before making such recommendations. Testing requirements are also in place for many healthcare providers, including nurse practitioners.
Be aware that not all nurse practitioners are qualified or willing to recommend medical marijuana for patients. It is best to seek out a medical practice that specializes in cannabis medicine or specifically states that they make marijuana recommendations.
Which States Allow for NPs to Certify Medical Marijuana Patients?
Some states allow for patients to choose their own provider, and have given nurse practitioners the ability to recommend cannabis to qualifying patients. These states include:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- Washington, D.C.
Who Can Prescribe Marijuana?
Again, marijuana is not prescribed per se, but rather recommended and then certified through an application process for a medical cannabis card. This application process and the associated rules vary from state to state. In general physicians, and in some cases, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, may help you obtain your medical marijuana card depending on your diagnosis and your state of residence.
About a dozen states are still “hold-outs” on legalizing medical marijuana, and you will not be able to get cannabis from a nurse practitioner (or any other healthcare provider) until and unless laws change. As of 2022, states including Kansas, Nebraska and Idaho have no medical marijuana programs, but laws are constantly evolving as new bills come to the legislative table.
Meet with one of Leafwell’s qualified medical professionals, including some Nurse Practitioners in some states, and apply online for your medical marijuana card. Our healthcare providers are here to consult with you in our virtual clinic and guide you through the application process for an MMJ card.