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Nurses use of Cannabis

Is it acceptable for nurses to use cannabis? 

Cannabis is legal in Canada for both recreational and medicinal purposes. While the laws regarding cannabis have changed, nurse’s accountabilities to provide safe care have not. As self-regulating health care professionals, nurses are required to ensure their practice and conduct meets the requirements of the profession and protects the public. 

Mood-altering substances such as cannabis can impair a nurse’s ability to think clearly, make sound judgments and act decisively. This puts clients at risk and jeopardizes patient safety. Nurses have a commitment to patients to practise safely and clients trust that they will not be exposed to care providers whose abilities may be impaired. Under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, working while impaired by any substance is considered to be professional misconduct

It is important to note that cannabis affects everyone differently. A nurse must use their professional judgment to determine whether using cannabis medicinally and/or recreationally might compromise their ability to provide safe care. If you think you may be impaired or affected by any substance (for example, opiates, alcohol or cannabis) or even illness, you must refrain from practising. Nurses have an accountability to recognize their physical and mental limitations, and the impact their own health and well-being has on their ability to provide safe, effective and ethical care. This accountability is outlined in Ethics practice standard and the Professional Conduct reference guide. Failing to meet this expectation may result in an investigation by the College. 

Nurses also have a responsibility to report to your employer when you believe another nurse or health care provider may be impaired. This accountability is outlined in the Professional Standards, Revised 2002, Ethics and Therapeutic Nurse-Client Relationship, Revised 2006 practice standards.

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Page last reviewed January 11, 2019