Opening Cannabis Medicine to Nursing Students

Article Photo Credit: Heather Manus, Cannabis Nurses Network™

In the United States, it’s clear to see that our collective beliefs stem from market-dominating corporations and their prioritized interests considering the stalled route cannabis has had in entering our education system and modern day healthcare.

Thanks to strong environmental efforts and researchers, cannabis education (with a focus on sustainability) is getting a head start in universities as schools continue to gain permission to grow Industrial Hemp for research in pilot programs. Sustainable agriculture has been widely accepted as the future of farming and has easily entered the mainstream market. In regards to medicine; however, merging the paths of formal education and cannabis has proven quite difficult. Currently, formal education and cannabis are mutually exclusive.


Holistic treatment as alternative remedy.

While people still scoff at the idea that there could be a suppression of cures and a lack of funding for proven alternative treatments – this is a fact that continues to come to light and is necessary for people to acknowledge:

a. Many people don’t realize that medical textbooks are published in partnership with pharmaceutical companies,

b. We are currently experiencing an opioid epidemic in the Unites States,

c. Insurance doesn’t cover holistic treatments, and this includes cannabis patients,

d. The U.S. Department of Human Health and Services, a government agency, holds a patent [United States Patent: 6630507] for the cannabis compound, Cannabidiol (CBD), as an antioxidant and neuroprotectant, yet cannabis is a Schedule I drug.

As I’ve mentioned before, the primary shortcoming of Western medicine is that it views the body as individual parts as opposed to an interconnected whole, thus provides temporary solutions for SYMPTOMS as opposed to fixing the actual CAUSE within the body.

RELATED TOPIC: The Cannabis Nurse: A Green Discussion with Heather Manus

This is not safe. This is the perspective that has given patients like myself hopeless options… Too often within the current healthcare system are people given a pill and aren’t just expected to be able take it (and pay for it) temporarily, but PERMANENTLY – leading to even more dangerous side effects and symptoms down the line.

That isn’t healing, and that isn’t health care. Like many else who advocate for the cannabis plant family, I believe the necessary switch in our collective outlook towards natural healing is going to be led by the cannabis industry – which is one of the reasons why it’s so important to build it.


Elisabeth Mack, Founder of Holistic Caring

Elisabeth Mack insists that the challenge is garnering support from traditionally trained professionals who are interested in entering on the cannabis side. And as you can imagine, that’s easier said than done.

To increase the momentum of this movement and involve student-professionals who are typically more open-minded, I previously asked Elisabeth Mack what advice she would offer a medical student that has an interest in cannabis as a field of study – she responded:

“First thing they need to do is know the endocannabinoid system and to be able to understand from a molecular level what’s happening with communication between the cells.

The nursing students need to learn how this regulatory system called the ECS balances everything, how it goes wrong, and what supplementation does, and how to not be afraid of adding the plant into our body and how that works to supplement the endocannabinoids in their work between the cells.

So with nursing students, medical students, and anyone studying this stuff needs to understand is that we can rebuild [ourselves] if done right, but it’s a multi-faceted approach.

We need to learn how holistic medicine works together with the cannabis plant and how to take a patient through that so that they can regain their health, their hope, and optimum functioning.”

Cannabis is just another tool or option in health management and it’s important to be educated on how to use it. This movement of propelling cannabis medicine relies heavily on education that isn’t readily provided to students, but credible individuals do host courses – and they are accessible if you know where to look.

RELATED TOPIC: Developing the Cannabis Nursing Sector: Industry Insight with Elisabeth Mack, RN, MBA

Following Mack’s advice and in attempts of exposing young professionals to the cannabis industry and increasing Millennial involvement within it, I invited a traditional (Western medicine) nursing student to an endocannabinoid system class hosted by Elisabeth Mack.

The class was hosted on July 26, and consisted of an evening presentation of “Cannabis 101: Dosing with Cannabis”, which provided class-goers with a brief description of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and how it works to maintain balance at a cellular level.

Knowing what supplements to take and how to medicate can be intimidating with all of the options for cannabis, so it was a rare opportunity to get credible guidance that anyone can appreciate.


Tiffany Baysa, National University

Tiffany Baysa is a nursing student enrolled in National University – here is what she had to say about the experience:

Have you (or any or your peers) learned about the endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) system before? If so, what did you learn about it?

“I did not even know what a cannabinoid was, let alone that there was an entire regulatory system within the body for them.

I knew of THC and CBD, but learned that there are more and they all do different things to the body – they all have different affects and benefits.”

What was your reaction to learning about this operating system in the body?

“My mother is recovering from cancer and chemotherapy treatments – at times her medicine hasn’t been helping her manage her pain or other complications, so I was excited that there is scientific proof and justified reasoning that I could show my mom when I got home because there were things that cannabis could help with that she’d been complaining about.”

How did the information provided change your outlook on the nursing sector or medical student education?

“Well, the most important takeaway for me is that microdosing is an important thing to understand and that there are different ways to take in cannabis besides smoking and consuming edibles which may sway people like my mom.

It really was a pleasant surprise that Elisabeth Mack makes a point to “heal without the high,” because feeling high is what turns a lot of people off..

I think it’s important to spread this information because none of this information is negative –  for the people who don’t believe at all and still believe it should be classified as a Schedule I drug can differentiate the content from other Schedule I drugs – even drugs provided at hospitals – and see that it really could help change the medicinal world for the better.”


Medical Students at National University.

Would you ever consider pursuing this path in cannabis medicine? Or would the stigma still keep you away from following it as a career?

“Seeing a lot of my family members suffer from multiple diseases and who are stuck on multiple medications that don’t seem to be doing anything makes me want to pursue this path because I really do believe that if there are more nurses and health educators who are trained to help with correct diagnoses for those who are open to it, then more people will eventually see how much better the natural route is compared to the medication that is provided in health care today.”

If you are currently a medical student in the San Diego area and are interested in learning about the endocannabinoid system, or a student in any disciplinary study interested in the cannabis industry – send us a message on LinkedIn so we can inform you of local upcoming opportunities.

About the author: Alanna Hinds is a millennial entrepreneur in the legal cannabis/hemp space known most notably for her brainchild, Hemp Educate America Foundation. She has published numerous articles on the benefits of the cannabis plant family and offers her content as a means to increase student involvement in the building of the green economy in the United States.


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