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ANA Supports HHS Marijuana Reschedule Proposal

The TDR Three Takeaways:

  1. ANA Endorses HHS Proposal: The American Nurses Association supports the HHS recommendation to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III drug, highlighting it as a significant advancement in recognizing marijuana’s medical utility.
  2. Advocacy for Research and Safe Access: ANA, representing over 5 million nurses, emphasizes the need for clinical research and has consistently advocated for safe access to therapeutic marijuana, recognizing cannabis nursing as a formal specialty.
  3. Federal-State Legal Discrepancy Remains: Despite the HHS’s recommendation and ANA’s support, the rescheduling is subject to DEA’s final decision, with ongoing legal complexities between state cannabis markets and federal law.

The ANA (American Nurses Association) has expressed its approval of the recent recommendation by the U.S. Department of HHS (Health and Human Services) to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III drug. ANA heralds this recommendation as “a positive step toward developing an evidence-based approach for marijuana and related-cannabinoids use in disease and symptom management.” The organization regards this development as a significant achievement in recognizing the potential of marijuana in healthcare delivery, marking the first instance where HHS has publicly acknowledged the medical utility of marijuana. At TDR, we shared links to the complete HHS documents obtained through the efforts of Attorney Matt Zorn, via the Freedom of Information Act.

ANA, which represents over 5 million registered nurses nationwide, has been a long-standing proponent of reclassifying marijuana. The association has been advocating for the reclassification since at least 2021 and has supported safe access to therapeutic marijuana and related cannabinoids for over two decades. In a significant move in September of the previous year, ANA officially recognized cannabis nursing as a formal specialty practice area, thereby underlining the importance of cannabis in healthcare settings.

The organization is persistent in its call to policymakers, urging them to reassess and reclassify marijuana’s status to foster clinical research aimed at unraveling how marijuana could serve patients and healthcare providers. ANA emphasizes the critical need for clinical research to provide patients and providers with data on the effectiveness of marijuana and related cannabinoids.

ANA positions itself as the authoritative body overseeing the scope of practice and standards for specialty nursing. The recognition of cannabis as a practice area last year was aimed at accentuating the vital role and unique contributions of cannabis nurses in the healthcare system and promoting the integration of cannabis therapies across various healthcare settings.

Moreover, ANA acknowledges the efforts of the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA), which has been at the forefront of advocating for research, education, and policy reform regarding medical marijuana. ANA credits ACNA for its pioneering efforts in the cannabis nursing field and its contributions to expanding the scope of nursing practice and patient care.

Currently, the HHS’s rescheduling recommendation is being reviewed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which holds the final authority on this matter. Despite the potential changes at the federal level, we highlighted at TDR earlier this week that the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has highlighted that state cannabis markets would still be at odds with federal law, and existing federal penalties for certain marijuana-related activities would persist.

HHS has released its full recommendation and scientific findings to the DEA, with Secretary Xavier Becerra stating that the agency has communicated its stance on marijuana rescheduling to the DEA and continues to provide additional information to aid the agency’s final decision. Despite having the ultimate say, DEA has indicated that it holds the “final authority” over the scheduling decision and can make any determination it deems appropriate.

This development comes in response to a letter from 31 bipartisan lawmakers, led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), urging the DEA to consider the “merits” of legalization as part of its review. As the situation unfolds, ANA remains steadfast in its support for reclassification and the advancement of research to enhance the understanding and application of marijuana in healthcare.


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