Medical Cannabis and Psychiatric Disorders: Implications for Psychiatric Nurses.
Objective: Cannabis use for medical condition has significantly increased over the past 20 years with 33 states and the District of Columbia passing laws legalizing medical cannabis. Five qualifying psychiatric disorders have been identified. The objective of this review article is to present a brief history of medical cannabis, the evidence for the qualifying psychiatric conditions, and to discuss the implications for psychiatric nurses.
Method: A review of the literature on the five qualifying psychiatric disorders was conducted. Databases searched included CINAHL, PubMed, Cochrane Library, MedLine Plus, and EMBASE. Keywords were cannabis, medical cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinaol, cannabidiol, and psychiatric disorders.
Results: The evidence that medical cannabis or cannabinoids is an effective treatment for the qualifying psychiatric disorders (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder, agitation in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder) is too weak and of low quality to recommend as an intervention at this time. A discussion of the implications of these findings for psychiatric nurses is offered based on the published guidelines by the American Nurses Association and National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
Conclusion: There is a significant gap between evidence supporting the effectiveness of medical cannabis for psychiatric disorders and patient interest and use of cannabis for such conditions as well as other psychiatric symptoms. There are tremendous opportunities for psychiatric nurses to make an impact both clinically and be conducting research in this emerging field. We need to educate ourselves and our patients about the benefits and risks of medical cannabis and to help patients make informed decisions about their health care.
Keywords: nurse practitioner; psychiatric nursing practice; safety; treatment assessment and planning.
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