We heard from Dr. Lynda Balneaves tonight for an update about medical and non-medical cannabis. Lynda first spoke with Association members two years ago around the time of legalization.
She shared how rates of medical and non-medical cannabis use have changed since legalization, how the rates of those who use cannabis daily compare and described how people are using cannabis now and what’s changed. Lynda also noted a drop in individuals holding active registrations with licensed producers of medical cannabis suggesting they may be obtaining it through other routes though they still may use it for therapeutic purposes.
The Cannabis Act is a federal law though things like age of consumption, number of plants allowed per home, distribution and access are regulated provincially. Lynda shared the framework of the federal act and what changes have been made since 2018. Notably, cannabis edible and extracts are allowable now with limits on per package amounts of THC to minimize risk of overdose.
In Quebec, the age of consumption was raised to 21 and they do not allow sale of cannabis candies and desserts to avoid appealing to a youth market. In Manitoba, there have been court challenges to the provincial regulation that limits personal growing to four plants per home. There is a provision in the Cannabis Act that requires it to be re-examined in 2021 so we can expect more changes as the situation evolves.
Lynda recalled the potential harms that were discussed pre-legalization including impaired driving, increased access for youth, and increased use of emergency services and though there is some preliminary data it really hasn’t been long enough to show a clear answer.
Authorizing, prescribing and administering medical cannabis is another area of interest for nurses. Manitoba, like most provinces, allows nurse practitioners to authorize/prescribe medical cannabis if the patient is under their care and cannabis is required for the condition that the client is receiving treatment for. Federal and provincial law allows nurses to distribute and administer medical cannabis though the policies of individual facilities vary and there are additional considerations outlined by the Canadian Nurses Protective Society and the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba.
Lynda finished up by reviewing barriers to including medical cannabis in the curricula of nursing education programs and a roundup of current and upcoming resources nurses can access to support us as we counsel patients.
Question and answer