Updated Cannabis Authorizations for Alberta’s LPNs

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The evolving understanding of the regulatory framework governing the use of cannabis for medical purposes has resulted in an update to the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta’s position on the role of the LPN in relation to administering medical cannabis.

This area of practice requires the LPN to undertake a significant amount of caution and care. Unauthorized possession of cannabis and its derivatives is still forbidden by federal law, with an offence resulting in a fine and/or jail.

As of October 2017, LPNs in Alberta are authorized to administer cannabis for medical purposes in hospitals as defined in the Narcotic Control Regulations as long as certain criteria are met.

In care settings that do not fall under that definition of hospital, specifically home care settings, LPNs remain limited to an assist role, meaning that the LPN can assist the client to self-administer their medical cannabis but cannot administer it for them.

CLPNA’s Fact Sheet: Cannabis for Medical Purposes – The Role of The Licensed Practical Nurse in Alberta has been updated to address this new information.

Download Cannabis Fact Sheet

The Fact Sheet contains a helpful snapshot of information on:

  • how to determine if a client is authorized to possess cannabis for medical purposes,
  • an overview of common routes of consumption,
  • dosing information,
  • side effects, and
  • the direction to review any organizational policies on cannabis for medical purposes that exist in their practice setting.

Background

On August 24, 2016, the federal government released the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). This regulation outlines how Canadians can access and possess cannabis and its derivatives to help manage the symptoms associated with a variety of disorders and conditions. It also provides authorization for LPNs, and other individuals to assist an authorized individual with administering cannabis for medical purposes.

Before providing assistance, the LPN must confirm the client has valid authorization to possess cannabis for medical purposes and only handle cannabis and any derivatives for the sole purpose of providing assistance to the client.

In Alberta, a client must seek permission to access and possess cannabis from an authorized physician. Clients may obtain cannabis or derivatives from licensed producers, or register with Health Canada to 1) produce their own, or 2) name someone to produce it for them. Once a client is authorized and has obtained cannabis in one of the above three ways, an LPN may be asked to help that client administer cannabis for medical purposes. Cannabis derivatives may include fresh and dried marihuana, cannabis oil, and various licensed products such as edible and topical goods.

RELATED – Practice & Policy Documents

Questions? Contact CLPNA’s Practice Consultants at practice@clpna.com, 780-484-8886 or 1-800-661-5877 (toll free in Alberta).