Administration of Cannabis for Medical Purposes

The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) is a federal regulation under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that came into effect in August 2016. These regulations allow for authorized individuals to possess cannabis for medical purposes and for others to possess cannabis for the sake of aiding the authorized individual to take the cannabis.

Section 56 class exemption of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) authorizes hospital employees (including nurses) to directly administer medical cannabis to clients with authorization to use it.

Section 2(1) of the Narcotics Control Regulations defines hospital as a facility (a) that is licensed, approved or designated by a province in accordance with the laws of the province to provide care or treatment to persons or animals suffering from any form of disease or illness, or (b) that is owned or operated by the Government of Canada or the government of a province and that provides health services.

At this time, the Section 56 exemption of the CDSA does not apply to those nurses working in-home care settings. Therefore, nurses working in in-home care are not authorized to directly administer medical cannabis to clients. They are, however, authorized to assist a client who has been authorized to use medical cannabis. Assisting in the administration process includes:

  • Prepare medical cannabis for the client to self-administer. This may include measuring the medication and/or mixing with food or juice for ingestion
  • Be present during the self-administration of medical cannabis.

Nurses working in-home care should refrain from activities that may be viewed as the actual administration of the medical cannabis, such as placing oral medical cannabis in the client’s mouth or holding the inhaled medical cannabis to the client’s mouth.

There must be employer policies that provide specific guidance to nurses relating to the administration or assistance of the administration of medical cannabis.

RNs and NPs working with clients using cannabis for medical purposes should review resources such as Health Canada’s information sheet Information for Health Care Practitioners- Medical Use of Cannabis.

Provincial Guidelines

ALBERTA – College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta

This FACT SHEET provides only a snapshot of the information an LPN will need to know about the administration of cannabis and its derivatives if it is part of their practice. The use of cannabis for medical purposes is an evolving phenomenon within health care.

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NOVA SCOTIA – College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia

The Colleges’ mandate is to ensure Nova Scotians receive safe, competent, compassionate, and ethical care from nurses. One way we strive to meet this mandate is to develop resources about current or emerging nursing trends so nurses may meet their standards of practice. The use of medical cannabis by clients is one such emerging trend.

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Legal implications for nurses – Canadian Nurse
Role of nurses in the uses of medical cannabis – Canadian Nurses Association