How to Become a Cannabis Nurse

Are you a nurse looking to specialize in a rapidly growing field that offers the opportunity to make a real difference in patients’ lives? If so, becoming a cannabis nurse,  also known as a dispensary nurse,  might be your perfect career path. As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, the demand for nurses with expertise in cannabis therapeutics is skyrocketing.

Who Is a Cannabis Nurse?

A cannabis nurse is a specialized healthcare professional who possesses expert knowledge about the therapeutic properties of the Cannabis sativa plant. As defined by the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA), a cannabis nurse’s scope of practice encompasses 17 standards of care.

Cannabis nurses have an in-depth understanding of how to manage and educate patients on the use of medical cannabis for treating various health conditions. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has outlined six key areas of knowledge that are crucial for cannabis nurses:

  1. Familiarity with current laws and regulations surrounding cannabis use.
  2. Understanding the specific Medical Marijuana Program in the state or jurisdiction where they practice.
  3. Comprehension of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), including its receptors, cannabinoids, and how they interact.
  4. Knowledge of the pharmacology of cannabis and the latest research findings in the field.
  5. Ability to identify and address potential safety concerns related to patients’ use of cannabis.
  6. Maintaining a non-judgmental approach when interacting with patients who use cannabis for medical purposes.

To meet the growing demand for specialized knowledge in this field, several organizations nationwide, including associations like the ACNA and large public universities, offer specialized training programs for cannabis nursing.

What Does a Cannabis Nurse Do?

Cannabis nurses play a vital role in the medical marijuana industry, providing patients with the information and support they need to make informed decisions about their treatment. Some of the key responsibilities of a cannabis nurse include:

  • Educating patients about the different strains and forms of cannabis, as well as the various methods of consumption (e.g., smoking, vaping, edibles, tinctures, topicals).
  • Assessing patients’ medical histories and current symptoms to determine whether cannabis might be an appropriate treatment option.
  • Developing personalized treatment plans that take into account patients’ individual needs, preferences, and goals.
  • Monitoring patients’ progress and adjusting treatment plans to optimize outcomes and minimize side effects.
  • Collaborating with other healthcare providers, such as physicians and pharmacists, ensures patients receive comprehensive, coordinated care.
  • Staying up-to-date on the latest research and best practices in cannabis therapeutics to provide patients with the most accurate and current information.

How to Become a Cannabis Nurse

If you’re interested in becoming a cannabis nurse, the first step is to become a registered nurse (RN). This typically involves completing an accredited nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Once you’ve obtained your RN license, you can pursue specialized training in cannabis therapeutics.

While there is currently no official certification for cannabis nurses, several educational programs and resources are available to help you develop your knowledge and skills in this area. Some options to consider include:

  • Continuing education courses: Many nursing organizations and cannabis industry groups offer continuing education courses on topics related to cannabis therapeutics. These courses can help you stay up-to-date on the latest research and best practices in the field.
  • Self-study: Many books, articles, and online resources can help you deepen your understanding of cannabis therapeutics. Some recommended resources include the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, the Cannabis Nurses Network, and the American Cannabis Nurses Association.

Where Do Cannabis Nurses Work?

Cannabis nurses can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Medical marijuana dispensaries: Many dispensaries employ cannabis nurses to provide patient education and support, as well as to help patients navigate the often complex process of obtaining medical marijuana.
  • Cannabis clinics: Some healthcare facilities specialize in providing medical marijuana evaluations and treatment plans. Cannabis nurses may work in these clinics to assess patients, develop treatment plans, and monitor progress.
  • Hospitals and long-term care facilities: As more healthcare institutions recognize the potential benefits of medical marijuana, they may begin to employ cannabis nurses to provide specialized care to patients who use cannabis as part of their treatment plan.
  • Research institutions: Cannabis nurses may also work in research settings, helping to design and conduct studies on the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana for various conditions.

Is there a certification for cannabis nurses?

While there is no official certification specifically for cannabis nurses, the American Cannabis Nurses Association is actively collaborating with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to establish cannabis nursing as a recognized sub-specialty and develop a formal credentialing process. Although a formal cannabis nursing certification is not yet available, it is anticipated to emerge in the future.

There are encouraging indications that cannabis nursing is gaining acceptance among governing bodies in the nursing profession. While cannabis nursing questions are not currently included in state nursing board exams, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) issued official guidelines addressing the nursing care of patients who use medical marijuana.

At present, most formal nursing education programs do not incorporate cannabis therapeutics into their curriculum. However, the NCSBN has published guidelines encouraging nursing schools to educate future nurses about the endocannabinoid system and the fundamentals of cannabis therapeutics through their document titled “Medical Marijuana Education in Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs.”

Cannabis Nurse Credentials

While there is no official certification for cannabis nurses, several credentials can help you demonstrate your expertise in this area. Some options to consider include:

  • Certified Medical Cannabis Nurse (CMCN): The Medical Cannabis Nurse Certification Board offers this credential, which requires a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education in medical cannabis nursing.
  • Certified Cannabis Nurse (CCN): The Cannabis Nurses Network offers this credential, which requires a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education in cannabis nursing.
  • Medical Marijuana Registered Nurse (MMRN): The American Cannabis Nurses Association offers this credential, which requires a minimum of 12 hours of continuing education in medical marijuana nursing.

While these credentials are not required to work as a cannabis nurse, they can help you stand out in the job market and demonstrate your commitment to professional development in this emerging field.


  • To become a practicing nurse, all candidates must successfully pass the NCLEX exam.
  • Once a nurse has passed the NCLEX, they do not need to retake it.
  • Apart from passing the NCLEX, there are no additional licensure requirements specifically for becoming a cannabis nurse.


  • Nurses can obtain a certificate that verifies their completion of cannabis education courses.
  • Acquiring a certificate showcases a nurse’s professionalism, commitment to ongoing education, and adherence to industry standards.
  • The American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) is currently working on establishing a certification program for cannabis nursing.

Cannabis Nursing Community

Two prominent cannabis nursing communities serve as central hubs for professionals in this field.

According to Kandiyoti, “The Cannabis Nurses Network and ACNA are great ways to connect with local and national cannabis nurses.”

Joining these associations offers numerous benefits, including free continuing education units (CEUs) and webinars, networking opportunities, and a monthly newsletter. Members also enjoy discounts on conferences and educational programs and access to the most current literature on the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

As of April 2023, medical cannabis has been legalized in 38 states, three U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C. This rapidly growing industry offers a wide range of health benefits, including relief from chronic pain, reduction of anxiety, and improvement of multiple sclerosis symptoms. The demand for cannabis nurses is increasing to educate and care for the estimated 5.4 million Americans enrolled in medical cannabis programs.

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